Poor Sleep And Bad Habits In Teens

Poor sleep can do a number on anyone. Bleary eyes, poor focus, bad mood – these are just some of the immediate symptoms. In the long run, it can affect physical and mental health. While these consequences affect everyone, they carry greater risks for teenagers. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can increase the chance of teens to take up bad habits like smoking and drinking. These, in turn, can give way to disease and health conditions with potentially fatal results. If your teen has trouble sleeping, it’s important to find ways to help him sleep better or more. There are numerous benefits to be gained, not the least of which is a lowered risk of developing bad habits.


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How Does Sleep Deprivation Influence Risky Behavior?

It’s known that sleep loss messes the way we think and process emotions. Could this be why teens who don’t get enough sleep make risky decisions? The studies don’t show cause and effect but it’s worth considering.

In a study by the University of Pittsburgh, a self-administered questionnaire collected data on sleep problems, patterns, behavior, stress, etc in teens. The results showed that sleeping less than 8 hours a day was associated with drinking. Smoking was also related to less sleep. Although longitudinal studies are needed, the findings suggest that sleep intervention in the form of sleep hygiene education could help prevent substance abuse in teens

In a collaborative study, it was found that the spread of sleep loss influences drug use in teen social networks. The researchers found that clusters of poor sleep behavior and drug use extend to 4 degrees of separation in a social network. If a friend sleeps for less than 7 hours, there’s an 11 percent higher chance that a person will sleep less than 7 hours too. There’s also a 19 percent likelihood that a person will use drugs when a friend sleeps for less than 7 hours. The study is the first to suggest that spread of one behavior in a social network influences the spread of another.

There’s yet another study that connects less sleep with risky behavior. According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teens who averaged less than 6 hours sleep were twice as likely to report having smoked cigarettes and use alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. What’s even more alarming is that they were three times as likely to consider or attempt suicide and nearly twice as likely to fight or carry a weapon.

How To Help Your Teen Sleep Better

Set A Limit On Gadget Use

Technology – and social media – have permeated nearly every facet of life. While they have their pros, nearly 45 percent of teens say they are online ‘almost constantly’. With about 95 percent of teens reporting that they own smartphones, staying online has become the norm. However, too much screen time is known to disrupt sleep. The blue light emitted from them interferes with the body’s melatonin – a sleep hormone – production. If your teen has been spending too much time on his phone or laptop, it’s time to limit his usage. Encourage him to turn off gadgets at least 2 hours before bedtime to give his body time to prepare for sleep

Establish A Regular Sleep Schedule

An irregular sleep schedule can keep teens from going to sleep and waking up at set times. The body can’t settle into a proper sleep-wake schedule and this can lead to irritability, mood swings, and poor concentration. If your teen sleeps and wakes at different hours, educate him on how maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule can help him sleep better. Let him know that the ideal sleep duration for teens is 8-10 hours each night (7-9 for adults) and that it can help him perform better and function well in daily life

It’s common to pull an all-nighter studying but studying in the morning is a lot more effective. The brain is refreshed after a full night’s rest and is able to grasp information better. A sleep expert from Texas A&M College of Medicine says that the brain loses efficiency with each hour of sleep loss. Staying up all night tires the brain, leading to a decrease in performance. Inform your teen about this and let him know that studying in small increments of 30 minutes 3-4 times a day can help him learn better

Encourage Getting Active

Staying active is good for overall health but it can also help teens sleep. That’s because physical activity tires the body out. It also releases feel-good hormones called endorphins that improve mood and reduce pain perception. The better your teen feels about himself, the better he’ll be able to sleep at night.


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Create A Sleep-Friendly Bedroom

A room that’s clean and free of mess will help your teen sleep a lot better as his mind won’t be distracted by dirt and clutter. Of course, it can be a challenge to get kids to clean up! However, educating them about how it can influence sleep could turn them around. Aside from this, you should invest in a quality mattress for your teen so that they have a comfortable surface to sleep on.

The Nuvanna mattress is the ideal mattress for your teen. It’s tailored to provide the best sleep possible, thanks to its triple-layered construction. Designed by a materials scientist with over 20 years of experience, the top layer keeps the body cool with the help of phase-changing gel particles that absorb and disperse heat. The middle layer isolates motion and lets your teen sleep without disturbance. The bottom layer provides complete support to the body and keeps the spine perfectly aligned.

Each of us is regulated by our circadian rhythms – an internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and other biological functions. Teens naturally have a delayed sleep-wake cycle where the need to sleep is delayed by a couple of hours. However, they still need an average of 8-10 hours, which is why it’s very important that they build good sleep habits. We’ve seen how poor sleep can increase the chances of developing bad habits and while it’s not clear why this is, it’s wise to err on the side of caution and make sure they sleep well.

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