Humans spend about one-third of their life asleep. Sleep is vital for our physical and mental wellbeing. Despite people thinking of sleep as a time of rest, a lot of important activity occurs in the brain and body during sleep.
The quality of the one-third of our lives spent asleep, greatly influences the quality of the two-thirds we are awake. Without adequate sleep our health, resilience and performance is greatly impacted.
Sleep requirements do not change much from primary school age to teens however there is one change that does occur. The hormone melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy, is secreted later at night during puberty than in children and adults. This delay temporarily resets their circadian rhythm (which is like an internal biological clock). This means that your teen will want to go to bed later at night and get up later in the morning. A guide for amounts of sleep required by age is included below.
Over 30% of primary school children and 70% of teenagers are sleep deprived. In fact as a group Australian adolescents rank as the third most sleep deprived in the world.
Dr Chris Seton from the Sleepshack says the best way to judge how much sleep a child needs is to assess whether it’s “enough for them to wake spontaneously – meaning without an alarm clock – on most mornings and avoid tiredness during the day at least until the last hour before bedtime”.
A guide to hours of sleep/ night:
Signs that children are tired are often overlooked or misinterpreted. The signs and the subsequent effects, fall under four areas: cognitive, physiological, psychological, psychosocial.
Causes for insufficient hours of quality sleep in children and teenagers fall under 3 areas: habits, physical/biological causes and psychological causes.
Many of these habits are influenced by a lack of understanding of the importance of sleep. This combined with a busy lifestyles and the drive to be socially connected means sleep becomes undervalued and a low priority.