Schools start so early nowadays, don’t they? Your teen is up at the crack of dawn even though they’ve stayed up late doing homework or chatting online with their friends. This is a recipe for sleep deprivation in teens. The less sleep your teen gets, the more sleep debt builds up. It’s a vicious cycle of not getting enough sleep and being too involved in goings on at night to get some decent sleep.
It turns out that sleep deprivation in teens is doing more than making your teen sleepy in class. A new study suggests that sleep deprivation in teens may actually increase your teen’s risk of depression and anxiety disorders later on in life.
What was the research about?
Conducted by the University of Houston, the goal of the study was to explain the precise reasons why sleep deprivation in teens and children can create an increased risk for emotional struggles later on in life.
The researchers were interested in seeing how children expressed, regulated, and recalled emotional experiences when sleep is adequate and when it is inadequate. Similar to anxiety and depression, negative sleep patterns in childhood can predict and determine the habits individuals will have as adults.
In the study, researchers identified the specific emotional processes that increase vulnerability for anxiety and depression due to lack of sleep. Throughout the study, researchers temporarily restricted sleep for 50 pre-adolescent children between the ages of 7 and 11.
What did they find?
By not getting enough sleep, researchers found, children feel more negative emotions and the lack of sleep also negatively changes positive experiences on a day to day basis. After only a couple nights of inadequate sleep, children begin feeling the negative effects of sleep deprivation. They start reacting less to positive things and deriving less pleasure from things they once found enjoyable. They are less likely to recall details about positive experiences after they occur, as well.
Thinking about your child’s sleep the same way you’d think about their nutrition, physical activity, and dental hygiene is important, researchers say. Helping them get enough sleep improves their chances of getting better grades and being happier in general.
Helping your teen get enough sleep
It’s hard to set strict bedtimes for teens. After all, even if they do go their room to “sleep” they will probably just look on their phones or laptops until the wee hours of the morning. The best thing you can do is to implement a “no phones” policy past a certain time. Get your teen an old fashioned alarm clock so they don’t have to use their phone as an alarm.
Encourage your teen to start their homework earlier instead of later in order to get everything done before a set bedtime. Reading before bed may also help them get to sleep sooner than they would if they were to watch Netflix in bed.