Why Are Teens So Sleep Deprived?

Most teenagers do not get enough sleep. Experts recommend 8 – 10 hrs of good quality sleep but 7 out of 10 teens sleep far less than 8 hrs. As a result they accumulate a massive “sleep debt”. The sleep deprivation can impact on their learning, memory, growth, ability to fight off infections and both physical and mental health.

There can be a number of reasons for not getting sufficient sleep. Often overexposure to the electronic gadgets and social media is a major cause. Teens stay awake late into the night, watching TV, checking their phone messages, chatting with mates or going on Facebook. Many have an overwhelming desire to stay in touch 24/7 through social media.

In addition, the curriculum demands are huge, putting pressure on the limited time teens have in the evening after school and sporting activities. Consuming caffeinated drinks, including energy drinks can interfere with sleep. If teenagers choose to smoke and drink, these have an adverse effect on sleep.

The biological body clock of teenagers is naturally shifted to a later bedtime and later wake up time, as they go through puberty. For some teens this can develop into “delayed sleep phase disorder”. They go to sleep very late and wake up late in the morning, missing school and being unable to stay alert during the daytime. The results can be low energy, poor concentration, irritability, daytime sleepiness and even depression.

Launch of the Teen Sleep Guide and eBook in Hobart city, Tasmania, Australia on 11 Sept 2017 and in Bedford, UK on 22 Sep 2017

This is a teen sleep guide now available as a pocket-size booklet, published with the help of a charity in the UK. It is written so that teenagers can understand more about their own sleep. It has information on the benefits of sleep and provides self-help tips on healthy sleep habits. It also indicates when to seek medical help.

There is an eBook free to download from iBooks store and is full of interactive features with animations and sounds, along with links to videos to enhance further understanding and knowledge.

When it was piloted with teens in the UK, Australia and USA, the booklet was very well received with a number of positive comments from the teenagers themselves and their parents/carers.

The aim is to distribute this booklet in several schools for easy access. The eBook will be widely promoted via several websites worldwide.

This innovative, teen-friendly and free resource is the first of its kind, aiming to make a positive difference, empowering teenagers to sleep well, learn well and stay healthy.

Click below to learn more about teen sleep problems

Sam’s story

Dr Chinnaiah Yemula

Professor Frank Besag

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