As a teen you may feel like a typical school day is a race against time. After the alarm clock wakes you in the morning, you are off and running.
You have a limited amount of time to squeeze in all that you need to do: school, work, sports, clubs and other activities. At home the race may continue as you study, help out around the house, or catch up with friends online or on the phone.
As you approach the finish line you may find that there is little time left for one of your most important needs: sleep.
If you are like most teens, then you probably aren’t getting enough sleep. You need a little more than nine hours of sleep each night to feel your best during the day. But studies show that you and your friends are likely getting less than eight hours of sleep on school nights. You even may be an extreme night owl who sleeps for only five or six hours before starting another school day.
The struggle to get enough sleep is made more difficult by a biological change that occurs as you enter the teen years. A shift in the timing of your body clock causes you to feel sleepy later at night. This can make it hard for you to fall asleep before 10 p.m. If you have to wake up early in the morning for school, then it may be impossible to get the nine hours of sleep you need.
This ongoing sleep loss can cause you some serious trouble. Your grades may slip as you doze off in class, struggle to concentrate and make more mistakes. The lack of sleep may cause you to have mood swings and feel depressed. It can put you in danger by causing you to nod off behind the wheel. There is even growing evidence that sleep loss increases your risk of obesity.
Although it may feel like you’re losing the race, there are practical steps you can take to sleep longer and better. Check out the Sleep Tips for Students for some helpful advice.
How sleepy are you?
The Cleveland Adolescent Sleepiness Questionnaire can help you evaluate how sleepy you are during the school week. Download and complete the questionnaire. Then use the Score Sheet to calculate your sleepiness score.
A higher score means that you are sleepy during the day and need to get more sleep on school nights. A higher score also could be a sign that you may have a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). You should discuss the results with your parents and your doctor.
Download the Cleveland Adolescent Sleepiness Questionnaire
Sleep Tips for Students
Teens & School Start Times
Your Teen’s Bed Time
Teen Bed Times: Parent Tips
Signs Your Teen Needs Sleep
Reviewed by David Kuhlmann, MD
Updated Dec. 16, 2009