Why Teens Need to Sleep



You might have noticed that your teen will sleep for long hours, sometimes late into the afternoon. Perhaps you’re trying to get your teen to sleep regular hours, but they insist on going to bed late and waking up late.


Because there is a significant amount of physical, emotional, and psychological growth taking place for adolescents, their ideal amount of sleep is more than what the average adult needs. In fact, it’s not just the growth that they’re undergoing, but the brain actually changes affecting sleep patterns in children after they’ve gone through puberty. The brain’s circadian system (biological clock) changes. This change is the result of genes as well as the environment. During the teen years the usual pattern of  getting up early and going to bed early changes. Instead, teens develop a new sleep pattern of going to bed late and getting up late.


Yet, regardless of when they’re sleeping, it’s important that teens get their sleep. As parents, you may or may not allow the long hours of sleep into the middle of the day, and obviously not on school days. Yet, teens between the ages of 10 to 17 need more than just 8 hours of sleep to feel rested and rejuvenated. Teens are still developing in a myriad ways and they need a significant amount of additional sleep. In fact, teens need about 9 to 9 ½ hours of sleep each night.


According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is food for the brain. And if teens don’t get the right dose of sleep each night, there may be some health costs. These can include:


  • Limited ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems.
  • Forgetfulness with names, numbers, appointments, and completing assignments.
  • Development of acne and other skin problems.
  • Aggressive and inappropriate behavior.
  • Poor eating habits and possible weight gain
  • Possible increased use of alcohol and nicotine
  • Stress-related illnesses
  • Danger of not using equipment safely and driving while feeling tired.


Because teens tend to want to stay glued to their phone or Ipad and due to late night social gatherings, teens might persist with their go-to-bed-late-and-wake-up-late schedule. So, you might not be able to get your teen to stick to a regular sleep schedule, however, you can help your teen get the amount of sleep they need. You can do that with the following suggestions, which can also contribute to an adolescent’s overall wellbeing.


  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
  • Only use the bed for sleeping only.
  • Turn the TV or computer off about an hour before sleep.
  • Eat well.
  • Exercise.
  • Sleep in a comfortable environment.


These tips along with sleeping 9 to 9 ½ hours at night can keep a teen’s brain and body functioning at optimal levels for academic performance, physical health, and emotional well being. However, if you notice that your teen is sleeping too much or too little, this can be an indication, among others, that your teen may be suffering from a mental illness. To support your teen’s psychological health, help them get the right amount of sleep each night – even if it’s from 2am to noon the next day.