The Importance of Sleep for Teenagers

Sleep is an essential aspect of both physical and mental health for everyone, but teenagers tend to sleep less than their bodies require. This can lead to many difficulties with attention, regulating emotions, school performance, and more.

Teenagers are at a vulnerable stage in their lives between hormones, school, extracurriculars, social activities, and life adjustments. Adding a lack of sleep to this list can lead to teens having a greater difficulty balancing their lives.

Sleep and Teenagers

Getting quality sleep is integral to a teenager’s overall health. Teens that do not get enough sleep are at a greater risk for behavioral issues and health problems such as obesity and diabetes. Additionally, reduced sleep greatly impacts a teen’s ability to perform well in school. It can reduce their ability to concentrate and stay focused, leading to a decrease in their overall academic conduct.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, teenagers between ages 13 and 18 should be getting eight to ten hours of sleep per 24 hours, but the majority do not. This lack of sleep doesn’t just lead to drowsiness and poor school functioning, but that increased sleepiness puts teenagers at a higher risk of things like car accidents due to slower reaction times. Teens who report not getting enough sleep are also more likely to feel depressed.

Why Do Teenagers Not Get Enough Sleep?

It seems teenagers are more likely to lack quality sleep than other age groups. Why is that? Well, teenagers experience a lot all at once.

Typical teenage hormonal shifts can lead to teens needing more sleep but not feeling sleepy until up to two hours later than they should go to bed. School hours can prevent them from sleeping in. Not getting those one or two hours of sleep each night can lead to chronic sleep deprivation. As this cycle continues, teens’ brains become accustomed to less sleep, and even attempts to go to sleep earlier can be unsuccessful.

Teens also spend more time than most age groups on their screens, especially near bedtime. The blue light from screens impacts the circadian rhythm, which can reduce sleep quality. The lives of teenagers are also a lot less relaxing than many people realize. Teens may have homework, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, and social lives that all impact their stress levels and available time for sleep.

The Risks of Not Getting Enough Sleep

Clearly, sleep is a vital part of a teenager’s life and wellness. A lack of sleep can lead to several problems, such as:

  • Health issues
  • Reduced immunity
  • Emotional problems like depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of focus
  • Decreased memory
  • Poor decision making
  • Agitation and aggression
  • Slower reflexes
  • Clumsiness resulting in physical injuries
  • Reduced academic performance
  • Increased absences from classes or activities

These issues are not just one-time struggles; they can quickly become long-term patterns if the lack of sleep is not dealt with. Teenagers are continuously developing, and sleep impacts all aspects of development. Their emotions, personalities, school performance, and relationships are all altered by their sleep. Below are some areas that can improve when teens get sufficient sleep.

Academic Performance

When teens get enough sleep, their brains perform at their highest level. Quality sleep improves attention, memory, and analytical thinking.

Emotional Well-Being

When teens are tired, their mood suffers. They may be easily agitated, irritable, or even aggressive. As teens grow and take on more responsibilities like driving and working, these consequences can have more severe and long-term impacts on their future. When teens struggle with their emotions, they may also struggle with behavioral issues, which can lead to mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and suicide risk.

Physical Growth and Health

Sleep rests teens’ minds as well as their bodies. Sleep improves the body’s ability to fight off infections, grow at a proper rate, and recover from injuries or mental health challenges.


As sleep impacts every part of the body, it makes sense that it plays a critical role in impulse control. Teenagers lacking sleep are at higher risk of engaging in risky behaviors like using drugs and alcohol, having unsafe sex, and texting and driving.

Tips for Teenagers to Improve Their Sleep

Teenagers who have struggled with getting proper sleep for an extended period may have to incorporate several fixes into their schedules to improve the quantity and quality of their sleep.

Some tips that can improve sleep for teenagers include:

  • Stick to a consistent sleep schedule: Whether or not it is the weekend, waking up and going to sleep within an hour of the same time each day and night improves the sleep schedule
  • Reduce light exposure: Limit the use of technology like smartphones, laptops, and television, especially within an hour before going to bed.
  • Watch when and what you eat: Avoid large meals and caffeine within three hours of bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly: Being physically active during the day helps you fall asleep at night.
  • Only use your bed for sleep: Watching television, doing homework, or scrolling through your phone can make it more challenging to shut down and sleep in the same space.
  • Open your curtains and turn on the light when you wake up: Getting enough light during the day improves your waking hours so that you can balance your sleep.
  • Schedule enough time for relaxation, not just sleep: Destressing is an integral part of calming down for sleep.

At Havenwood Academy, our focus is on the mental health and well-being of the teenage girls in our care. We work with those in our program to improve their health, emotional wellness, and academic performance. All of this starts with the basics of a good night’s rest. Quality sleep is an often overlooked aspect of teenagers’ functionality, behaviors, and emotions. By making sufficient sleep a focus of our program, we are able to help guide these girls through mental health care and treatment, school activities, and family relationships. Our facility is designed to offer compassionate and effective care for girls who have experienced trauma and other mental health challenges. If your daughter is struggling with her mental health, emotional struggles, or anything else, reach out to us for help. We’re here for you and your family. Call us at (435) 586-2500 now.


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