Sleep for the School-Aged Child and Adolescent
Adequate sleep in essential for a healthy mind, emotion and body. However, with the surge of entertaining electronic devices in the home (television, computer, video games, iPad, Smartphone) has come a decline in sleep for all members of the family. Screen time (time spent viewing these devices) is very engaging and often causes us to lose track of time. Parents, children, and teens should periodically take a look at how they spend their time in the evenings and how it impacts their sleep.
For more information, go to Research on the Benefits of Sleep.
- Before bedtime, do your teenagers watch television, play video games, and spend time on the Internet?
- Are your teenagers allowed unrestricted use of their cell phones in the evening hours while doing their homework?
- What time do they drink their last caffeinated beverage?
- Do they have electronic devices in their bedrooms, such as a television or iPad.
- Are their rooms dark and quiet?
- Do you supervise their bedtime, or do you routinely go to bed before they do?
Child or Teen Quiz
What’s the big deal about sleep?
- Sleep is important for growth. Your body produces growth hormone during deep sleep.
- Sleep helps you fight off sickness. The immune system weakens with sleep deprivation.
- Sleep can help you do well on your tests. The sleep stage when you dream, called REM sleep, strengthens your memory.
- You have more energy for after-school activities. It’s natural to feel tired between 2 PM and 4 PM, when school ends. Not getting enough sleep makes it even harder to stay awake for after-school activities.
- Getting good sleep improves your mood. It’s easier to get angry when you’re sleepy.
How much sleep do I really need?
On average, most teenagers need approximately 9 hours of sleep per night; however, not everyone has the same sleep needs. If you wake up feeling refreshed and are able to stay awake throughout the day without difficulty and without caffeine, you are probably sleeping enough.
How can I get good sleep?
- Establish a bedtime routine. Try taking a warm shower, reading, relaxing, and listening to soft music before bedtime.
- Turn off all electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime. No television in the bedroom.
- Exercising several hours before bed time may help you fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
- Do not consume caffeine after lunch.
- Set a consistent sleep schedule. Keep the weekday and weekend sleep schedule similar.
- Don’t take an afternoon nap. If you feel you have to take a nap, limited it to 30 minutes in the early afternoon. Desiring a nap may be a sign you’re not getting enough sleep at night.
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol, because these substances disrupt sleep.
* For more information, read “Waking up to the unique sleep needs of adolescents” in Contemporary Pediatrics.