It’s no secret that quality sleep plays a fundamental role in keeping your body healthy. No matter what age or gender you are, the benefits associated with sleeping are universally alike. From having more energy to feeling more alert, there are plenty of advantages that come from getting a good night’s rest.
And while the benefits of sleep may be quite similar regardless of who you are, the negative effects that occur as a result of minimal shuteye can impact people differently. Those who classify themselves as teens, can especially endure serious consequences if they do not get a quality night’s sleep.
The Physical & Mental Health Effects of Sleep Deprivation
There is a profound influence between sleep and a teen’s physical and mental health development. Let’s take a closer look:
Physical Health Effects
As explained by the Sleep Foundation, “Sleep contributes to the effective function of virtually every system of the body. It empowers the immune system, helps regulate hormones, and enables muscle and tissue recovery.” This means that lack of shuteye can do a number on our bodies internally, which in turn, can lead to changes in our physical health and physical appearance. These changes may include but are not limited to:
- Teen Acne: As previously mentioned, sleep helps with the regulation of hormones, meaning when you don’t get enough of it, your hormones are more likely to become imbalanced and therefore, fluctuate. Since your teenage years are a time when your hormones are already out of whack thanks to puberty and other factors, it’s normal for teens to develop acne on account of sleep deprivation. Young adults are also more likely to experience this if their skin is naturally oily or acne prone. Under these circumstances, it may be a good idea to assist your child in managing their blemishes with a prescription acne treatment for teens.
- Worsened Metabolic Profile: Research shows that a shortened sleep duration is associated with childhood obesity. In a 2018 study conducted by the National Library of Medicine, researchers performed a cross-sectional study of 829 adolescents derived of sleep duration, efficiency, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Their evidence found that adolescents who consistently have trouble sleeping are more likely to develop a worsening and metabolic profile overtime, which can later lead to serious issues such as diabetes or other long-term cardiovascular issues. By contrast, however, their evidence also noted that sleep efficiency and longer sleep duration have more favorable benefits, related to waist circumference, fat mass, systolic blood pressure, and more.
Mental Health Effects
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably experienced first-hand how a bad night’s sleep can affect your mood throughout the day. Whether it be increased feelings of irritability or higher levels of frustration, your emotions tend to become exaggerated when you don’t get enough shuteye at night. And the consequences don’t just stop there. For teens, the ramifications can be even worse, particularly for those who are in the process of adapting to more responsibility and independence.
- Impaired Memory: Quality sleep serves to support brain function, working to stimulate memory, attention, and analytical thought. Not only that, but it also facilitates expansive thinking, or problem-solving skills in teens, which can be useful in spurring creative thinking. In other words, if your teenager is studying hard for a test they have the next day, or is currently learning how to play a new instrument, you’ll want to make sure that in an effort to do these things, they are prioritizing the hours of sleep they get. Otherwise, they’re more likely to have a shorter attention span, difficulty concentrating, and of course, an impaired memory. This can lead to problems in the classroom and inevitably, with academic performance.
- Anxiety & Depression: Much like most people, when a teenager doesn’t get a sufficient amount of sleep, they are more likely to be in a negative mood/mindset. Although one all-nighter won’t be too detrimental to their mental well-being, continuous nights of sleep deprivation can be extremely taxing on their emotional state. This can cause mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression to develop and, in some cases, even increase thoughts and attempts of suicide in teens. If you’ve noticed a difference in your teen’s behavior, and are becoming concerned about their mental health, try your best to encourage your teen to seek assistance and talk to someone now, before it’s too late.
Other Parenting Tips to Support Your Teen
While the simple answer to supporting the sleep schedule of your teen is seemingly obvious— be stern with the time in which they go to bed and wake up—this solution is impractical. No teenager wants to be assigned a bedtime and enforcing this could cause them to rebel and worsen the connection between the two of you. Nevertheless, there are some techniques that you can use to help ensure your teenager is getting a proper amount of shuteye each night. Some suggestions include:
- Encourage Limitation of Screen Time: A teen’s use of technology can play a role in their ability to fall asleep. Regardless if they’re scrolling through their social media platforms, playing games on their laptop, or watching their favorite television shows in bed, is a term that’s known as vamping— a reference made towards mythical nocturnal creatures. To avoid your teen’s engagement in vamping, focus on encouraging limitation of screen time by offering alternative rituals for their bedtime regimen. While it can be beneficial to take your child’s devices at nighttime, you can also take a less assertive approach. For example, you could suggest that you both read a book that you’re both interested in together and use the nighttime to read together or discuss the context.
- Assess Your Teen’s Weekly Schedule: School, sports, clubs, social events, you name it— your teenager is probably doing it. Part of the healthy development of a teen means engaging in the types of activities listed above along with other extracurriculars. Still, there’s no denying how challenging it can be to manage it all, especially if they aren’t getting enough sleep to begin with. With this in mind, try to use the beginning of every week to assess your teen’s weekly schedule. Make note of any practices, games, homework assignments, projects, concerts, and other activities that they have going on throughout the week. Use your assessment to assist your teen in improving their time management skills and truly prioritize their after-school commitments. This will allow them to create a better schedule for themselves and ideally, free up some additional time to rest.
Work to Adjust Your Teen’s Circadian Rhythm: Finally, work closely with your teen to adjust their circadian rhythm. Talk with them about the different solutions out there. The Circadian Rhythm Clock, for instance, is a great way to support your teen’s internal clock as it not only acts as a traditional alarm clock, but it also works to transform your room into a peaceful, therapeutic sanctuary with a variety of soothing colors and it even offers guided breathing exercises! If your first initial efforts do not work, consider having you and your teen speak with their doctor about their sleep deprivation issues and other possible available treatments. For further assistance on how to improve the sleep cycle of your teen and/or other existing chronic sleeping conditions, you can also contact us today by calling Alaska Sleep Clinic today @ 907-420-0540.