The amount of sleep you require depends on not only your age but your lifestyle. Our experts have put together some great tips for a successful sleep routine.
As we grow and change, our need for sleep changes as well. Newborn babies require anywhere from 14-17 hours of sleep per night, while fully grown adults require 7-9 hours per night. In between these stages are the developmental years, which also have specific sleep needs as teens need 9 to 9-½ hours of sleep per night.
Sleep is extremely essential for teenagers, and young adults as their bodies and brains are experiencing significant development with changes affecting emotions, personality, moods, social life, and academic performance. Lack of sleep during these formative years can result in decreased attention, impaired memory, slowed processing, worsened sequential thinking, reduced creativity, poor decision-making, depression, and anxiety.
Data from the CDC indicate that 72% of high school students report sleeping less than the recommended amount for their age. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 44% of students have depressive symptoms, and 50% have dealt with anxiety. A surprising 80% of students report feeling overwhelmed by academic responsibilities. Drowsy driving is an additional problem caused by lack of sleep in this age group, with people aged 16-24 being 80% more likely to be in a drowsy driving accident.
Many students feel overworked with a packed course load, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and a busy social schedule. Many college students will cram overnight before a test or “pull an all-nighter.” This ends up hurting them in the long run as sleep deprivation impacts the skills needed to do well on tests, such as memory recall and concentration. These students end up having a lower GPA than fully rested students.
Students who put sleep as a top priority are better able to cope with the stress that comes with these busy times. So how can we ensure teenagers and young adults get the sleep they need?
Adhere to a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including on weekends. Oversleeping on weekends will make it hard to start the academic week on the right track.
Cut back on evening caffeine. While a late-night cup of coffee can give students a “boost” as they study for tests or stay up late to get their work done, caffeine can stay in your system for up to 6 hours after ingesting it.
Regular exercise. Exercise can be a non-pharmacological intervention for sleep quality improvement and can reduce test-related stress. Certain types of exercise in the evening can also help with sleep onsets, such as yoga or stretching.
Avoid screen time at least one hour before bedtime. Phones, tablets, laptops, and computer games stimulate the brain, making it more difficult to fall asleep. These devices also emit blue light, which can interfere with normal sleep.
Take some time to wind down. Dim the lights and transition to non-screen activities like reading, listening to music, light exercise, warm bath, meditation, writing in a journal, or strumming a guitar. If students make these things a ritual before bedtime, it will begin to train their brains that it’s time to go to sleep.
The more students can prioritize their sleep, the better their academic performance will be. High school and college students need to have a sharp memory to remember information. Getting a good night’s sleep helps with retention. Studies have shown that if you learn material and then sleep on it, you’ll perform better on exams or assignments.
Getting enough sleep at night also contributes to a good immune system, decreasing the chances of getting sick. Sleep promotes the production of germ-fighting white blood cells. Adequate sleep also leads to a better mood and less chance of depression or anxiety.
College students may have other contributing factors that cause a lack of sleep due to sleeping in a communal setting, but taking active steps to promote healthy sleep will ultimately help them fall asleep faster, stay asleep, and achieve a more restorative sleep, which will help them tackle their busy and demanding schedules.
If you’ve tried these steps and achieved little or no success, and require additional assistance with improving your quality of sleep, please reach out to one of Snore MD’s highly trained dream team members.