Photo: Hans Van Den Berg
Teenagers have very different sleep patterns from younger children, or indeed adults. Recent research has shown that adolescents release melatonin up to two hours later in the evening than they did when they were younger. Melatonin is the hormone that helps control the body’s sleep and wake cycles and this may explain why teenagers stay up late and find it hard to get up in the morning.
School days don’t really fit around a teen’s sleep needs – the same research showed that they need around 9 hours sleep each night to be able to function well. Lack of sleep can:
- Limit the ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems
- Contribute to acne and other skin problems
- Lead to aggressive or inappropriate behaviour
- Cause someone to eat too much or to eat unhealthy foods like sweets and fried foods that lead to weight gain
The right amount of night-time sleep is just as important for children’s development as a good diet and regular exercise.
How much sleep should your child be getting?
Between the ages of 11 and 18, your child will need 8.5-10 hours of sleep a night. As your child gets older it can be harder to impose a bedtime routine. It’s important to impress on them the need to wind down at the end of the day. You may want to have some agreement about technology and devices in the bedroom – you could set a time that they need to be switched off or decide that they need to come out of the bedroom.