Any parent of older children knows - they aren’t getting enough sleep. Dragging your child out of bed in the morning is almost harder than getting them to do their homework or clean their room. Not only does this sleep deprivation make their mornings hard, it can have long term effects, too. Getting proper rest is vital for kids and teens, and parents need to know what’s causing this deficit.

Phone Ownership

The number of children who have phones has spiked dramatically in the last few years. According to a US survey by the Pew Research Center, 80% of 12-17 year olds now have their own phones. Most of these phones are added onto the family data plan, meaning that playing on their phone is a “free”, easy, and fun activity for kids.

Research by Common Sense Media reveals that 52% of teens feel they spend too much time on their phone, and 80% said they check their phones hourly. Younger generations are becoming addicted to their devices, and it’s having negative effects on their health.

Sleep Deprived Teens

A combination of biology and scheduling causes many teens to be sleep deprived. During puberty, teens natural sleep patterns shift. If given the choice, they would go to bed later and wake up later than they did previously. However, early school start times force them up before their bodies are ready. This leads to them getting an insufficient amount of sleep on a regular basis.

Why Sleep is Important

Sleep is when bodies grow, brains rest, stress is reduced, and immunity is restored. It is especially important for teens, as their bodies are going through changes and their brains are developing rapidly. Several problems can come from lack of sleep, such as high blood pressure, obesity, ADHD, behavioral problems, and more

When kids don’t get enough sleep, their learning suffers. If your teen has recently brought home a poor grade on a math test or failed a paper in english, it might be due to a lack of sleep. The most important time for learning isn’t when they’re in the classroom, but it’s during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. This time helps with memory consolidation.

Do Phones Make Things Worse?

The mix of their natural schedules shifting and early start times is bad enough, but bringing cell phones into the mix adds fuel to the fire. According to a 2014 study by the Family Community Health Journal, large amounts of teens have their phones with them at night and don’t turn them off after lights out. A third of those surveyed said they stay on their phones after going to bed.

FOMO (the “fear of missing out”) is a big contributor to this. Teens think that being absent from their phone for even a few hours is enough for them to miss out on important social moments. If their friends are online, they want to be, too. They’ll stay up into the wee hours of the night texting and browsing social media to stay connected to their peers.

Besides acting as a distraction from sleep, the blue light emitted from phones delays the release of melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep. Even after teens put their phones away for good, the light has halted the melatonin that otherwise would be working to put them to sleep. They’ll likely be laying in bed unable to fall asleep. This may cause them to reach for their phone again, restarting the process and further delaying the time that they’ll eventually fall asleep.

Help Your Teen Get More Sleep

To help your child get more sleep, you can:

  • Monitor their device to see if they are using it at late hours
  • Set an electronics curfew
  • Keep all phones in a room (not a bedroom) at night
  • Write a phone contract that states appropriate hours for use

Go here for the full guide on teens and sleep deprivation.

Author's Bio: 

KidGuard's sole mission is to protect your children online. Our team spends every waking hour thinking about how to bring awareness and inspire solutions on issues of cyber bullying, online predators, teen suicide, and childhood depression in the age of technology. KidGuard employs a team of researchers and writers to educate parents on solutions to digital parenting problems and also runs a popular child cell phone monitoring software to allow parents to stay involved in their child's life online.