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3 Things Teenagers Need to Know About Sleep

Photo: 3 Things Teenagers Need to Know About Sleep
Many Australian teens and young adults underestimate the importance of sleep. “We’ll sleep when we’re dead,” they tell us. They need to be made aware that a growing body of research points to the importance of sleep for avoiding early death, suicidal thoughts and a broad variety of other health conditions and problems. Let’s discuss 3 things you can teach your teenage patients and your own children about the importance of sleep.

1. Lack of Sleep Could Make You Fat

Scientific research reveals that sleep duration has a significant influence on metabolic hormones. In particular, researchers discovered important correlations between sleep duration and amounts of ghrelin and leptin, the hormones that govern appetite regulation.
Data from a study conducted by researchers at the University Of Bristol revealed that heavier individuals tended to sleep less than leaner individuals did. Longer or shorter sleep durations, in turn, affected each subject’s available levels of ghrelin and leptin. The study subjects who tended to sleep only 5 hours each night had reduced levels of leptin and elevated levels of ghrelin as compared against subjects who preferred to sleep for 8 hours each night.

The main takeaway: Teenagers may start to understand the importance of sleep if they’re made aware that lack of sleep can interfere with their metabolic hormones, making them feel hungrier and increasing their risk of gaining unwanted weight.

2. Sleep Deprivation Could Make You Feel Depressed or Even Suicidal

Clinical research indicates that, when teens have trouble sleeping, it is a significant predictor that they’re likely to have suicidal thoughts and engage in self-harm behaviors. Lack of sleep can also lead to anxiety and irritability.

3. You’re Likely to Do Better in School if You Get Enough Sleep

College-aged teenagers often sacrifice sleep to write their papers or cram for exams. However, researchers at Baylor University in the United States have confirmed that it’s better to skip the all-night cram sessions and get a good night’s sleep instead. In a study examining students’ sleep habits and corresponding grades during final exam week, the researchers determined that sleeping for a full 8 hours was correlated with higher overall grades of about four points.

In addition to educating your teenage patients, parents, too, may require education on how they can support their teens in getting enough sleep.

In particular, parents should be made aware that it’s important for teens to have access to comfortable beds and bedding that promote healthy sleep. When choosing a mattress, practitioners at Stars Physiotherapy advise consumers to consider their height and weight as well as the mattress dimensions. They also stress the importance of considering how your weight will be distributed on the mattress you’re considering. For tall teens, the experts at Ecosa recommend a king single mattress, because this mattress size can comfortably accommodate growth spurts while still allowing for plenty of personal space in the bed.

Australian teens have often been sacrificing sleep because they’d rather use social media or watch movies instead of going to bed. To maximize teens’ sleep on school nights, we may wish to advise parents to ensure their teens stop using their phones and screen devices at least one hour before bedtime; research demonstrates that this limitation results in an average of an hour and 45 minutes of additional sleep for the duration of a school week.

As healthcare providers, we’re often presented with opportunities to educate our patients on health-related matters such as these. We can help teens and their parents understand how sleep influences nearly every aspect of their lives, from their weight and appearance to their mental health to their academic performance.

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