How does sleep change during adolescence?

How Sleep Changes During Adolescence

Adolescents’ Changing Sleep Patterns

  • Sleep Duration: Adolescents need 8-10 hours of sleep per night, but their natural sleep-wake cycles, or circadian rhythms, shift, making it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m.
  • Delayed Sleep Phase: This delay in falling asleep can be attributed to the delayed release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin in the evening, causing them to feel more awake at night.
  • Morningness-Eveningness Preference: Adolescents tend to experience a phase delay in their internal body clock, making them more inclined towards eveningness, resulting in a preference for later bedtimes and waking times.

Impact of Technology and Lifestyle

  • Screen Time: Increased use of electronic devices, such as smartphones and computers, can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle due to exposure to blue light, affecting the release of melatonin.
  • Social Interaction: Adolescents often engage in late-night social activities, leading to delayed bedtimes and reduced sleep duration.

Consequences of Inadequate Sleep

  • Cognitive Impairment: Insufficient sleep can impair cognitive functions, including attention, memory, decision-making, and academic performance.
  • Emotional Regulation: Sleep deprivation can lead to mood disturbances, irritability, and heightened emotional reactivity, impacting mental well-being.

Strategies for Healthy Sleep Habits

  • Consistent Bedtime Routine: Establishing a regular sleep schedule and winding down with calming activities before bedtime can aid in falling asleep more easily.
  • Limiting Screen Time: Encourage adolescents to minimize screen exposure before bedtime to mitigate the disruptive effects of blue light on melatonin production.
  • Creating a Sleep-Conducive Environment: Ensuring a comfortable and conducive sleep environment, including a dark, quiet, and cool bedroom, can promote better sleep quality.

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