Sleep is not for the weak – 50% of teens falling short of their full 8 hours

Have you ever thought that behaviour we casually dismiss as “teenage angst” — the moodiness, constant battles, sleeping all day, the reckless, impulsive or careless behaviour — is not a normal part of being a teen?

New studies have revealed that approximately 50 per cent of Australians aged 16-17 are not getting enough sleep to meet national sleep guidelines, impacting on their mental, physical and emotional health.

Whilst quality sleep at any age is important, the teenage years are a formative period meaning the brain and body experience significant development whilst they transition to adulthood.

National Sleep Awareness Week runs from 14 – 21 March 2021 with the aim of helping you and your family members get a better night’s sleep.

So how much sleep should kids and teenagers be getting?

While sleep needs are unique to each person, the Australian National Guidelines recommend:

  • Children under 3 months- 14 – 17 hours of good quality sleep
  • Toddlers- 11 – 14 hours
  • Children aged 6 to 13 years- 9 – 11 hours
  • Teenagers- 8 – 10 hours.

WSLHD Population health deputy director Christine Newman, says that although sleep patterns may vary, it is crucial for children and adolescents to gain the adequate amount of sleep each night.

“Not getting enough sleep or not sleeping well can affect how children learn and may lead to mood swings and behavioural problems,” Ms Newman said.

“There is also strong evidence between not getting enough sleep and childhood overweight and obesity.

“Nurturing quality sleep habits for children from an early age is vital for a child’s physical health, brain function, emotional wellbeing, safety and ability to function day to day.”

Ms Newman said parents and carers play an important role to help their children create positive, regular sleep habits early on and offered these tips to help nurture teens sleep:

  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day 
  • Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, chocolate and energy drinks
  • Help your child wind down by reading a book or listening to soft music
  • Make sure the bedroom is suitable for sleep by having it dark and quiet

Dr Chris Seton, a Paediatric and Adolescent sleep specialist from The Children’s Hospital at Westmead also shares tips to help children and teenagers set up healthy sleep habits in a series of helpful videos. 

For any help with adult sleep issues, contact the Westmead Hospital Sleep Clinic on (02) 8890 6797