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Sleep is most definitely not for the weak. Instead, we should be saying sleep is for the strong!
Teenagers should get 8-10 hours of sleep per night, and this is a rule that should definitely be followed. As children enter adolescence, their circadian rhythm shifts. Circadian rhythm is the body’s natural clock that controls when it is tired and asleep vs. when it is awake. Melatonin (the hormone associated with sleep) is secreted later at night during adolescence, which is why teenagers tend to go to bed and wake up later. But, going to bed later should not come at the cost of getting sufficient sleep.
Sleep is so important, especially during puberty. Sleep is important during puberty, impacting mood and behavior, and it also directly impacts growth because you grow when you sleep. Additionally, it aids the body in maintaining good physical health, mental health, and energy as well as being able to concentrate, have a strong memory, and socialize well. On the flip side, sleep deprivation poorly affects mood, behavior, cognitive ability, academic performance, the immune system, and decision-making. Not getting enough sleep can lead to being moody and irritable, it can lead to engaging in risky behaviors and drowsy driving, it decreases reaction time and creativity, it can lead to poor grades in school, and it increases the risk of getting sick more often.
Adolescents still need downtime to unwind at night, whether that is reading a book before bed or socializing with friends – but this should not happen at the expense of sleep. This means that time management is an important skill for prioritizing sleep, so there is still a reward after a long day AND hours of sleep are not being sacrificed.
Ways to get better sleep include creating a pre-bed routine to help with relaxation, budgeting sleep into a daily schedule to maximize the chance to get 8-10 hours, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, and not using devices late at night. The light from devices is stimulating and can make it hard to fall asleep and get good quality sleep, so as tempting as it is to scroll on social media to wind down, it is better to put the phone away.
Forming good sleep habits is so important! Sleep is something that needs to be prioritized to optimize overall health and well-being. So instead of saying sleep is for the weak, choose to go to sleep – you’ll feel so much better.
Click here to read a personal story about sleep advice from a college student!