Is Your Teenager Sleep Deprived?

It’s so common that it’s almost a cliche.  Teenagers don’t get enough sleep.  Between busy social lives (texting at all hours of the night), recreation (video games and television) and school work (hopefully it doesn’t come last on your teen’s list like it did on this one), it’s hard to imagine when they actually have time to sleep.  But, is your teenager sleep deprived, or just a little tired?  Unfortunately, with the hormones raging within teenaged bodies, it’s sometimes very hard to tell.  Let’s look at some of the signs of sleep deprivation, and see why diagnosing it can be a problem in teens:

  • Decision-making is difficult: Teens don’t have the life experience to make great decisions, and when they do make them, they many times don’t make the ones a parent would prefer.
  • Eating a LOT and always being hungry: If you’ve ever been around a teenager, you know they can pack away a lot of food, mainly because their bodies are still growing and changing.
  • Being frequently sick: If you’ve ever been in a school, whether it’s an elementary, middle, or high school, you know they’re germ factories.  That many people packed together for hours on end makes it very easy for viruses and germs to spread around.
  • Being moody: Have you been around a teenager?  If so, you know why no further explanation is needed here.
  • Being clumsy: Like the point above, lack of coordination is practically a symptom of being a teenager — particularly the younger 13 to 15-year-olds.
  • Having difficulty paying attention: Ditto the above two points.  Attention span is not usually the strong point of the average teenager.

So, given that the signs of sleep deprivation are often also the signs of being a teenager, how can you tell if a teenager is sleep deprived? What it comes down to as a parent is to know your child.  Pay attention to what time he or she is going to sleep, not what time they close the bedroom door or even turn out the light, because nighttime texting is rather common.  Teens need more sleep than adults because their bodies are working so hard to become adults.  If a teenager is going to bed at a reasonable hour but still seems unusually tired, it’s a good idea to check for allergies that might be reducing sleep quality.  Additionally, anyone who is sleeping the proper amount of time but still wakes up tired should be considered a candidate for sleep apnea.

tired school girl sleeping with her books against white background