- Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best. Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.
- Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week — they typically stay up late and sleep in late on the weekends, which can affect their biological clocks and hurt the quality of their sleep.
- Many teens suffer from treatable sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea.
- Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence -- meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm.
- Sleep is vital to your well-being, as important as the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. It can even help you to eat better and manage the stress of being a teen.
Sleep is food for the brain. During sleep, important body functions and brain activity occur. Skipping sleep can be harmful — even deadly, particularly if you are behind the wheel. You can look bad, you may feel moody, and you perform poorly. Sleepiness can make it hard to get along with your family and friends and hurt your scores on school exams, on the court or on the field. Remember: A brain that is hungry for sleep will get it, even when you don’t expect it. For example, drowsiness and falling asleep at the wheel cause more than 100,000 car crashes every year. When you do not get enough sleep, you are more likely to have an accident, injury and/or illness.
If teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep to do their best and naturally go to sleep around 11:00 pm, one way to get more sleep is to start school later.
Teens' natural sleep cycle puts them in conflict with school start times. Most high school students need an alarm clock or a parent to wake them on school days. They are like zombies getting ready for school and find it hard to be alert and pay attention in class. Because they are sleep deprived, they are sleepy all day and cannot do their best.
Schools that have set later bell times find that students do not go to bed later, but get one hour more of sleep per school night, which means five hours more per week.
"If parents and teens know what good sleep entails and the benefits of making and sticking to a plan that supports good sleep, then they might re-examine their choices about what truly are their ‘essential’ activities," says Mary Carskadon, Ph.D., Director of Chronobiology/Sleep Research at the E.P. Bradley Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown Medical School in Providence, R.I. "The earlier parents can start helping their children with good sleep habits, the easier it will be to sustain them through the teen years."
Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
For teens, 8 hours of sleep is recommended. However, I would focus more on the quality of your sleep. Sometimes we wake up during sleep because it's too bright, too loud, we are uncomfortable, or something grabs our attention. If you aren't getting good quality sleep, then you might always feel tired, even if you had 8+ hours of sleep.
Too much caffeine or food before bed can mess up your sleep as well.
Think about your sleeping habits and focus on what is in your control to change. You deserve to feel well rested!
Older adults (65+): 7–8 hours
Adults (18–64 years): 7–9 hours
Teenagers (14–17 years): 8–10 hours
School children (6–13 years): 9–11 hours
Preschoolers (3–5 years): 10–13 hours
Toddlers (1–2 years): 11–14 hours
Infants (4–11 months): 12–15 hours
Newborns (0–3 months): 14–17 hours