These days, teenagers are running on empty. A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) says nearly 58 percent of middle school students in nine states and almost 73 percent of high school students across the country don’t get the recommended amount of nightly sleep they need.
A lack of quality sleep could also have a negative effect on their health as well as school performance, the report states.
"Children and adolescents who don't get enough sleep are at increased risk for obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and attention and behavior problems, which can affect them academically," said report author Anne Wheaton, a CDC epidemiologist.
How much sleep should adolescents get at night? According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, children aged 6 to 12 need nine to 10 hours of sleep a night, while teenagers aged 13 to 18 should get at least eight hours per night, Wheaton said.
A big part of the problem is that teens stay up late using smartphones and computers, playing video games or watching TV, said Dr. Thomas Kilkenny. He is director of sleep medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City.
Wheaton is also a proponent of schools starting later to help teens get the sleep they need.
In addition, parents can help their children practice good sleep habits. "These are things like having consistent bedtime and rise time, and that includes not just during the week, but on the weekends," Wheaton said. "That's good for everybody -- the adults, too."
Studies have shown that teens that have a set bedtime get more sleep than those that don’t. A media curfew is also recommended by Wheaton to cut down on the amount of light kids are exposed to before bed.
"Adolescents who are exposed to more light in the evenings are less likely to get enough sleep, and using media can contribute to having later bedtimes," she explained.
If your teen thinks that he or she can make up their lack of sleep on the weekend, Wheaton says that ‘s not what typically happens. If they sleep in and then go to bed late on Sunday night, they wind up sleep-deprived on Monday morning when they have to get up early, and the cycle starts again, she said.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens that get too little sleep can be become limited in their ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems. It can also make them more prone to acne and other skin problems. When explaining how critical sleep is, you can let them know that they may start forgetting important information like names, numbers, homework or a date with a special person in their life – and that, could get them in real trouble!
Story sources: Steven Reinberg, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/sleepy-u-s-teens-are-running-on-empty-730521.html