Teens need more sleep than their parents or younger siblings. Nine hours is suggested as the optimal amount of time a teenager should sleep nightly; more if they participate in strenuous activities or sports. But, as any of us who have had a teenager in the household knows, that rarely happens!

In a recent CNN Health article, they stated that a teen’s natural sleep rhythm is delayed by about two hours. So now we know WHY young adults tend to stay up so late (which certainly doesn’t help with the sleep issue!) The article went on to point out we often view teens as moody, lazy, and difficult, but rarely do we associate those negative attributes with a lack of sleep.

A sleep-deprived teen could have any – or all – of the following:

  • Exhibit difficulty waking up on time
  • Sleeps excessively and whenever able (like on weekends and during vacations)
  • Falls asleep when watching TV, studying, etc.
  • Is overcommitted and has no downtime
  • Unable to remember tasks and chores
  • Appears sleepy and bored often
  • Moves slowly, often has hunched shoulders, and almost seems to drag themselves along
  • Is snippy or negative when communicating
  • Replies “I don’t care” or “I don’t know” or simply grunts in response

Sound familiar? Now, combine the typical teen’s lifestyle with breathing issues that cause the sleep they do get to be interrupted, and you have a recipe for disaster. Not only will their attitude and ability to cope with everyday life be negatively impacted – their health can be adversely affected as well.

As we all know it’s difficult to tell teens what to do, even when you have their best interest at heart. Dr. Jackie Schafer knows this all too well. She’s the mom of two active teens.

“I’ve had to find ways to discuss sleep with my boys,” said Dr. Schafer. “I’ve taken subjects they have interests in and used them as introductions to talk about how sleep can affect about everything in their lives from sports and school, to driving and relationships.

“Sleep is so important for athletes. It’s been found that lack of proper sleep is the number one predictor of sporting injuries.”

So, what’s a parent to do?

First, make sure any sleep your child is getting is restful sleep. If they snore, have problems concentrating or focusing, or seem tired even after getting a seemingly full-night sleep, they may have an obstructed airway that is preventing them from getting the uninterrupted rest they desperately need. A simple, fast, painless, and non-intrusive scan can tell the story.

“Colorado Healthy Sleep has everything here at my office to find out what’s really going on when it comes to your teen’s sleep. They don’t need to go to a sleep clinic. They won’t need to wear a machine, like a CPAP, at night” said Dr. Schafer. “And they don’t need to have this problem for the rest of their life! A small appliance that they wear in their mouth at night – just like a dental retainer – might be all they need to get a better, more restorative sleep. But, getting them to bed is still going to be a struggle … take it from me!”

To discuss any sleep issues your child is having, feel free to call Dr. Schafer at Colorado Healthy Sleep. 303-469-3344 or schedule an appointment HERE.