Teenage Sleep Deprivation & Technology

Times have certainly changed and along with it there are things that we do more of and things that we do less of. Sleeping is one of those things that both adults and teenagers are doing less of and that is certainly not a good change. Compared to a century ago it appears that people sleep an average of 20% less. In the past- people slept up to 9 hours a night. Now, 7 and a half hours is closer to the nightly average. The National Sleep Foundation states that adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep on the average for optimal functioning and that teens require more sleep-up to 9 hours of sleep per night. Of course, individual sleep needs vary from individual to individual but nonetheless these are the recommendations.  We all know how important it is for both teenagers and their parents to get a good night sleep. Fatigue can trigger irritability, depression and an even less than an optimal emotional climate in the home. Well, what would you expect if exhausted family members are trying to communicate when they are both depleted and tired?

So, what is causing this sleep deprivation? I think that we can figure out the answers but I’d like you to hear it from the experts. According to Swedish Pediatric Sleep Specialist, Preetam Bandla, our TVs and computer screens may be major culprits because the light from the screens can keep us awake. Darius Zorofy, M.D., medical director of the Lake Sammanish Sleep Center, suggests that while technology is one factor there are factors contributing to our lack of sleep. Both Dr. Zaroufy and Dr. Bandla agree that the multiple demands of work, school, family and social activities may lead to overscheduling. And, what is the first thing to go when parents and teenagers are over-scheduled? Why, sleep, of course.

My suggestions for dealing with this tiring (pun intended) but important issue is to try to develop a routine where all sources of technology are turned off about an hour before going to bed so that we all have winding down time. And, if the demands in your life and in your teenager’s life preclude a good night’s sleep then perhaps it is time to consider cutting back on some of the scheduled daily activities. Listen, in my opinion getting enough rest is just as important or maybe even more important than sending just a few more messages via technology. We all know that what seems like 5 minutes on a computer or cell phone can end up being hours.