Every parent knows that teenagers can be tough to figure out. Teenagers go through a lot, and if they don’t confide in you it can be difficult to know exactly how they’re doing. Or what’s going on in their lives, especially when it comes to their health. Parents often get worried when they see their teens sleeping late into the afternoon on the weekends, wondering if something’s wrong. On the other hand, it’s also worrying to see your teen stay up late studying. And get just a couple of hours of sleep the night before a big test.
How much sleep should teenagers get on average, and how can you encourage them to stick to it? Since teenagers’ brains and bodies are still developing, they do need more sleep than adults. But just how much?
And should you be concerned when it’s 2pm on a weekend and your teen is still sleeping?
Here’s how much sleep your teenager truly needs.
The Recommended Sleep Hours Teenager Needs
Although studies differ, overall the hours of sleep that are recommended for teenagers each day is 8-10 hours. 8 hours seems to be the magic number for most of us. But it is true that your teen will likely need a little bit more than you. If they’ve had a late night and sleep well into the next morning, don’t be too concerned.
However, it’s hard to ensure teenagers actually get 8-10 hours of sleep every single night. Mainly because school starts so early; in the U.S. high schools have an average start time of 8am. If your teen has to get up at least an hour before school starts to get ready, have breakfast, and take a bus or drive to school. This means they have to get to bed as early as 9pm.
To many parents and their teens, a bedtime of 9pm can seem impossible. Teens have a lot going on, especially with sports, extracurricular activities, and homework. Whether your teen is on the varsity basketball team, participating in the school’s play, or a straight-A student, you know they often pull late nights trying to keep up with everything. After all, school gets out in the early afternoon and they need to be in bed by 9 or 10, meaning they only have a few hours to do everything.
Luckily, knowing how much sleep your teenager needs is the first step. There are a few things you can do together with your teen to ensure that they’re trying to match this amount as much as possible, and if you need further help with ensuring your teen is sleeping well, BetterHelp has many resources and advice available online.
How to Encourage Your Teen to Get Enough Sleep
To help your teen get the 8-10 hours of sleep they need, you can work with them on:
- Reducing the amount of obligations they have in their life.
While this is difficult because teens want to do as much as possible, and many extracurricular activities look good on college applications, a smart thing to do may be to reduce the obligations they have so they can get enough sleep. Maybe your teen plays on three different sports teams; have them focus on one. Or, as much as you want to bring them with you every weekend when you visit grandparents, let them stay at home sometimes so they can use that time. If your teen is getting enough sleep they’ll be able to focus and put their efforts where it really counts.
- Discouraging phone use late at night.
Studies have shown that the light of a cell phone can keep your brain active for a long time. One of the top recommendations for a good night’s sleep–for anyone–is to power down electronics and put the phone away at least an hour before you try to fall asleep. Encourage your teen to read a book at night instead.
- Creating a study nook.
It can actually help your teen sleep if they don’t do all their studying in their bedroom–reserving that space for sleep helps them make that association and sleep better. Whether you create a study nook somewhere in your living room or at your kitchen table, this can help your teen focus on their studies when it’s time to study, and then sleep better when it’s time to sleep. These nooks don’t have to be fancy–even just a designated spot on the couch that is your teen’s study space will do.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.