How Much Sleep Do Teenagers Really Need?

According to Dr. Judith Anne Owens of the Children’s National Medical Center, recommendations made by organizations such as the National Sleep Foundation need to be adhered by, but she wants parents to understand the sound science behind these recommendations. Firstly, it is generally known that sleep is an essential part of physical and mental health; however, there is some slight variation in the amount of sleep depending on the individual. But, this does not mean that parents should just let teenagers sleep whenever they say their sleepy, rather they should look for signs that they are actually not getting enough sleep. These signs can include:

  • Having a difficult time getting up in the morning
  • Being sleepy during the day
  • Sleeping for significantly longer periods during weekends and vacations

Though many parents and teenagers argue that sleep is time that could be used to be productive and doing their schoolwork, this is not necessarily true. Sleep is actually a necessary and productive time for the brain to organize the day’s events. Studies that correlate testing scores with little amount of sleep actually do not account for health risks associated with little sleep such as:

  • Increased risk of obesity
  • Higher risk of being in an car accident
  • Increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts

There is abundant evident that teenagers are healthier both physically and mentally when levels of sleep such as those recommended by the National Sleep Foundation are adhered. Contrary to certain studies, sleep is an essential time, especially for a developing brain, that cannot be shortened without consequences to one’s health.

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