Most teenagers squeeze in 5 to 6 hours of sleep in their daily schedule, but is 6 hours of sleep enough for a teenager? Even if they feel well-rested after 6 hours of sleep, there is so much more than their health at stake here.
Regular sleep deprivation may turn a few hours of sleep into a habit, but it certainly does not overrule its adverse effects. Chronic sleep deprivation can drastically affect a teenager's life, elevating their risk of depression, affecting their mental well-being, and boosting anxiety and low self-esteem. All of this can, in turn, affect their academic performance.
Let's delve deeper into this subject and uncover if 6 hours of sleep is enough for teenagers.
Are 6 Hours of Sleep Enough for Teenagers?
The American Sleep Foundation and relevant research on the sleep needs of teenagers suggest that teenagers need between 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night, with 7 hours being the minimum level. However, most teenagers get only 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep every night, prompting their body to make them feel groggy and tired in the afternoon or late evening. Regularly getting less than 7 hours of sleep every night can lead to chronic sleep deprivation, which can negatively hamper a teenager's well-being and academic performance.
Average Sleep Needs Categorized by Age
The American Sleep Foundation suggests recommended sleep hours for individuals based on their age, along with the sleep hours that may be appropriate:
May be appropriate
Newborn to 3 months old
14 – 17 hours
11 – 19 hours
4 to 11 months old
12 – 15 hours
10 – 18 hours
1 to 2 years old
11 – 14 hours
9 – 16 hours
3 to 5 years old
10 – 13 hours
8 – 14 hours
6 to 13 years old
9 – 11 hours
7 – 12 hours
14 to 17 years old
8 – 10 hours
11 – 17 hours
Young adults (18 to 25 years old)
7 – 9 hours
6 – 11 hours
Adults (26 to 64 years old)
7 – 9 hours
6 – 10 hours
Older adults (65+)
7 – 8 hours
5 – 9 hours
As per the above-mentioned statistics, teenagers should get about 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night, but 11 to 17 hours may be appropriate.
What are the Effects of Teenage Sleep Deprivation?
Since teenagers have a brain undergoing development and the body's hormonal changes, they require more than the recommended amount of sleep every night, lest they develop chronic sleep deprivation.
Some common effects of chronic sleep deprivation may be as follows:
Difficulty in concentration
Hampered academic performance
Frequent mental "drift-offs" during important discussions or classes
Hampered sport performance
Decreased attention span
Increased clumsiness, which may lead to physical injuries
Reduced physical reflexes
Defective or poor decision-making skills
Lack of enthusiasm
Aggression and moodiness
Depression and anxiety
How to Prevent Sleep Deprivation in Teenagers - Tips for Parents
Avoid arguing with your teenager about their sleep schedule. Instead, calmly address the problem and let them know about the possible effects of sleep deprivation that may not look like symptoms. It is best to brainstorm ways to supplement their nightly sleep quota together. Some suitable suggestions are as follows:
Encourage your children to sleep in early every Sunday, as a late Sunday night and groggy Monday morning is not the best start for your child's academic week.
Allow your child to get some extra hours of sleep on the weekends.
Extend a helping hand to your teenager to manage their schedule and after-school commitments in the best possible way to free up their time for sleep and rest.
Mutually decide and impose reasonable time limits for stimulating activities, such as screen time and homework. It is best to promote restful activities in the evenings after school, such as light reading.
Avoid committing to early morning classes, training sessions, or appointments for your child.
Help your child adjust their body clock, and take help from a sleep specialist if necessary. You can also book a sleep study for your teenager to ascertain the primary causes behind their disturbed sleep.
Evaluate and help your child tailor their weekly schedule if they are overcommitted.
How to Prevent Sleep Deprivation - Tips for Teenagers
It is typical for a teenage brain to want to go to bed late and sleep the following morning, which is impossible on school nights. However, you can follow some steps to adjust your circadian rhythm according to your schedule, some of which are as follows:
Avoid loud music, screens (such as computers, smartphones, and television), homework, and any other stimulating activity at least an hour before bedtime to let your brain wind down.
Adopt a relaxing bedtime routine. For instance, you can have a relaxing bath, try gentle yoga, use mindfulness and meditation activities, or have a warm milk drink before sleeping.
Make sure your bedroom is dark and comfortable at night.
Avoid the consumption of stimulants such as energy drinks, soft drinks, tea, and coffee in the evening.
Stay active during the day and avoid a sedentary lifestyle to ensure you are physically tired at night.
Follow the same bedtime routine for at least four weeks every night to help your brain get acquainted with it and sleep well. After four weeks, start your bedtime routine at least ten minutes earlier than usual for a week, and then continue adding ten minutes every week until you reach your desired bedtime.
The light our eyes receive plays a pivotal role in setting the brain's sleep-wake cycle. Avoid using smartphones or watching television right before bed. Similarly, expose yourself to plenty of natural light to help your brain in waking up.
Set up a consistent wake-up time and follow it religiously.
Make sure your room is comfortable and quiet. You can use light-canceling curtains, ear plugs, and some fluffy pillows for this.
Avoid staying up too late on weekends, as late nights may disrupt your sleep schedule.
Remember that even 30 minutes of extra sleep every night can make a big difference in your overall health and performance. However, it may take you about six weeks to pay off your sleep debt and start feeling the difference.
American-board certified and fellowship-trained professionals at SleepRx offer high-quality diagnosis and treatment of sleep problems, including sleep apnea. You can consult a sleep apnea specialist for a sleep study and sleep apnea test, or even book an online sleep apnea test and at-home sleep study with a sleep specialist of your choice.