Why is sleep so important in adolescence

It's almost lunchtime and your teenage son or daughter is still sleeping. You might be tempted to go over there and pull his foot, but should you really? The answer is probably no. Teenagers need more sleep because their bodies and minds are growing rapidly, and teenage sleep is important for current and future mental health. 


Studies show that lack of sleep is one of the most common symptoms of depression among teenagers. This is also true for adults, with 92% of people with depression complaining of sleeping difficulties.  


For many, insomnia starts before depression and ends up increasing the risk of mental health problems in the future. Should we then take teenage sleep more seriously?  


In a study published in 2020, Faith Orchard, a psychologist at the University of Sussex, examined data from a large group of teenagers followed from 15 to 24 years of age. Those who reported having slept poorly at 15 years of age, but had no depression or anxiety at the time, were more likely than their peers to experience anxiety or depression when they reached 17, 21 or 24 years of age.  


Also with adults, sleep problems can be a predictor of future depression. A meta-analysis of 34 studies, which among them followed 150,000 people over a period between three months and 34 years, found that if people had sleep problems, their risk of suffering from depression later in life  doubled.  


This does not mean, of course, that all people who sleep poorly will have depression. Still, it's a wake-up call for all of us to give our sleep the right priority.  

Why is it important to get enough sleep? 

A sleep deficit has negative effects on us, including a tendency to withdraw from friends and family, a lack of motivation, and heightened irritability, which can affect the quality of a person's relationships. -a at greater risk of depression.  


In addition, there are biological factors to consider. Lack of sleep can lead to increased inflammation in the body, which has been implicated in mental health difficulties. 


Another important factor is memory - which consequently affects school results. Imaging and behavioral studies continue to show the critical role sleep plays in learning and memory. Researchers believe that: 


  • Lack of sleep impairs a person's ability to concentrate and learn efficiently. 
  • Sleep is necessary to consolidate a memory so that it can be recalled in the future. 


Oxford University neuroscientist Russell Foster found that disruption of circadian rhythms - the natural sleep-wake cycle - is not uncommon among people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. In some cases, the body's clock can become so out of sync that people are awake all night and sleeping during the day. 


So maybe sleep problems need to be taken more seriously in teenagers and adults.Sleep interventions are simple, and in some cases successful What is already clear from a meta-analysis of 49 studies is that tackling poor sleep among insomnia sufferers not only helps them sleep better it also reduces depression. 


Best for physical health 


Sleep contributes to the effective functioning of almost every system in the body. It boosts the immune system, helps regulate hormones, and allows muscle recovery. 


Researchers have found that teenagers who cannot get enough sleep are at increased risk of long-term diabetes and cardiovascular problems. 


Decision making  


Difficulty remembering things is a common symptom of not getting enough sleep. Since the brain doesn't have time to create new pathways for the information it has recently learned, sleep deprivation often affects how memories are consolidated. 


Other potential cognitive impacts include difficulty in learning and concentrating, reduced decision-making abilities, and poor emotional and behavioral control. 


How to sleep better 


However, anyone who has difficulty sleeping can try the techniques shown to be most effective: making sure you get enough light during the day (in the morning for most people); do not take a nap for more than 20 minutes; do not eat or exercise or drink caffeine in the late afternoon; avoid reading your emails or discussing stressful topics in bed; keep the room cool, calm and dark; and try to get up and go to bed at the same time every day.  


Other suggestions are: 

  • Eat/take something light (like a glass of milk) before going to bed.  
  • Try to go to bed at about the same time every night.  
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and calm, but open the curtains or turn on the lights as soon as you get up in the morning. 
  • Always fall asleep in your bed. And use it only to sleep. Avoid doing homework, using a smartphone or tablet, or playing video games while in bed. Try to be in your bed with the lights off for at least 8 hours every night. 

Make sure you are not trying to do too much. Do you still have time to have fun and get enough sleep? If you have trouble sleeping because you have too much to think about, try keeping a diary or to-do lists. If you write things down before bed, you may feel less worried or stressed. You can also try Goodreams, a natural supplement based on Melatonin, Gaba and other elements that stimulate sleep and relax the mind. 


Experts' recommended sleep hours: 

Age Group 

Average age 

Recommended hours of sleep per day 


0-3 months 

14-17 hours 


4-11 months 

12-15 hours 


1-2 years 

11-14 hours 


3-5 years 

10-13 hours 

School age 

6-13 years 

9-11 hours 


14-17 years 

8-10 hours 


18-25 years 

7-9 hours 


26-64 years old 

7-9 hours 

Elderly people 

65 yearsor more 

7-8 hours 

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