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Teenage Sleep Patterns: A Practical Guide for Parents

It’s a fact that when those adolescent hormones start kicking in that teenage sleep patterns go crazy. All of sudden your teenagers are staying up until the wee hours of the morning and sleeping past noon. Then after they wake up, they eat everything in the fridge and head off to take a nap. It can be a bit concerning. So, what can you do to help regulate teenage sleep and ensure that your teenagers stay healthy?

How Much Sleep Do They Really Need?

According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a teenager needs about 9 hours of quality sleep each day. If your child is sleeping 12 or more hours a day, then they are probably not getting quality sleep, and this could lead to that morning sleepiness. 

Many things interfere with quality sleep.

  • Poor Diet and Caffeine
  • Blue Light
  • Stress
  • Physical Pain


By helping your child eliminate the things that are causing them to lose sleep, you can help them gain control of their sleep schedule.

Diet Affects Sleep

Caffeine is one of the main culprits causing sleep problems among teenagers. Regardless of whether or not your teen claims that “caffeine doesn’t affect him,” it does.

Caffeine temporarily makes us feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production. When consumed in the morning, this is not a problem. However, it takes about 6 hours for one-half of the caffeine to be eliminated. That means it takes 12 hours for the body to rid itself of the chemical.  (source)

Certain foods can also cause teenage sleep disruptions.

  • Tomatoes
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate

Yikes! Those three foods are the staples of any teenager’s diet. That means snacking on a piece of pizza and drinking a coke during an evening study session probably means your teenager is going to be up all night and drift off during his first-period History test.

Talk to your teen about why they need a healthy diet. Explain that caffeine is best taken first thing in the morning when it will help instead of hinder them.

"We know that certain foods that we consume can interfere with sleep." Carl E. Hunt, MD, Director of the National Center for Sleep Disorders, Research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. 

teenage sleep patterns

Cut Back on the Video Games

The fact is that blue light from electronic devices interferes with a person’s sleep patterns.

According to Ann-Marie Chang, a Harvard neuroscientist:

Participants who read on light-emitting devices took longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep [the phase when we dream] and had higher alertness before bedtime [than those people who read printed books]. We also found that after an eight-hour sleep episode, those who read on the light-emitting device were sleepier and took longer to wake up. (source)

Your teenager does not need to give up their electronics; they just need to turn off the video screens an hour before bed. Have them switch to music or audio instead.

Teenagers, a Lack of Sleep, and Stress

Most adults look at teenagers and wonder why they seem so stressed.

Teenage stress comes from several different sources. When was the last time you had to juggle homework for seven classes, peer pressure, work, and the angst of teenage love? Not only do they have their own concerns, but they also have almost no ‘experience’ in how to deal with stress.

On top of that, worry often causes insomnia, and lack of sleep causes more stress.

Help your teenager to manage their stress. See if you can give them pointers on time management and listen to them. Help them to get a better night’s sleep.

A Good Night’s Sleep for Your Teen

Teenagers are growing rapidly, and this causes quite a bit of pain and discomfort. If their physical discomfort is keeping them awake, then you should consider replacing their mattress. You may be surprised to find that your child has outgrown his childhood mattress, both literally and figuratively. Not only do they need more physical room, but they also need better support for a good night’s sleep.

Just like adults, a teenager needs a mattress that keeps them cool and pulls heat away from the body. It needs to adjust to their changing body shape and size. Even more important is a mattress that supports the neck, back, and hips, so their growing bodies are literally restored while they sleep.

One of the best mattresses for a growing teen is produced by Real Sleep™.  The memory foam cushions their growing bodies and eliminates the pressure points that cause pain with a traditional mattress. (Link text to landing page)

REAL SLEEP™ by REAL SIMPLE™ also produces a top-quality memory foam mattress, made from hypoallergenic materials. Our mattress is Certi-Pur Certified and free from many of the toxins found in traditional mattresses. All of these attributes allow your teen to get a good night’s sleep. (Link text to article: How to Sleep Well at Night, Naturally)