Sleep is vital for adolescent mental and physical development, experts tell parents


Parents should set strict bedtime for teens up to the age of 18, sleep experts say.

Getting enough sleep during adolescence is vital for mental and physical development.

Yet increasingly independent teens, equipped with smartphones and computer games, are staying awake late into the night in what experts call an “adolescent insufficient sleep epidemic.”

Researchers have found that by the time children become teenagers, most parents have stopped telling them when to go to bed or limiting the use of electronic gadgets at night.

A study by scientists at Rochester University in New York found that parents should set strict bed times for teens – up to the age of 18. (Image in stock)

But a new study suggests that continuing to enforce strict bedtime rules, even for older teens, can have a significant impact.

Scientists at Rochester University in New York found that teens between the ages of 14 and 17 slept more if their parents set regular bed times.

They had more energy during the day and reported less depressive thoughts.

The academics, who followed 193 teens and their parents for seven nights, said: “No specific bedtime limits were set for 74% of the nights studied.”

One-third of parents said they don’t enforce rules about using screens before bedtime, and 48% have no rules about caffeine consumption at night.

Families who have established bedtime rules have seen their children benefit.

The 16 percent of parents who imposed bedtime the most consistently saw their children sleep an average of 6 minutes more each night.

Even this tiny improvement adds up – and meant the kids had more energy during the day and were likely to be depressed.

“Teens with longer sleep times experienced high energy levels during the day and eventually reported lower levels of depressive symptoms on the same day,” the researchers wrote in the medical journal Sleep.

“We have also strongly supported the use of the bedtime parenting app. “

The researchers, who also found that later start-to-school times meant teens slept longer, added: “Parents who can create and maintain appropriate bedtime for their teenage children not only increase the chances of sleep more, but also to be more vigilant during the day and well-being for these children.

Scientists have recognized that teens expect a certain degree of autonomy and independence – and are likely to rebel against being told when to go to bed.

But they added, “Despite the challenges of parenting teenagers, parents and caregivers are still available to exert influence over their teenage children.

“However, relatively few parents actively enforce parent-set bed times or sleep hygiene rules.

“However, uncontrolled independence can make teens more vulnerable to sleep deprivation.”

Sleep experts have found that getting enough sleep is vital for adolescent mental and physical development.  (Archive image)

Sleep experts have found that getting enough sleep is vital for adolescent mental and physical development. (Archive image)

Last night, British academics supported the call of American researchers.

Professor Kevin Morgan, sleep expert at Loughborough University and father of three boys, said: ‘Everyone agrees that sleep is good for you and that most of our children could sleep better. , certainly during the week.

“But setting a bedtime for teens is easier said than done.

“It’s about negotiation – you have to come up with a negotiated settlement as a family. “

He said teens need eight to nine hours of sleep per night, but stressed that each person’s sleep needs are “hard-wired” and vary widely.

Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert, said: “Our bodies crave routine. Knowing when to go to bed allows the body and the brain to relax.

“We would all benefit from having a little more routine in our lives, but for children, this is especially important.

“Sleep is very important in adolescence – for memory, development, growth and mental health.

“Having a regular bedtime at this age also defines a good lifestyle. “

Dr Stanley added: “In the past it was easier – the kids went to bed at a set time, they had 20 minutes of reading and they turned off the lights – there was nothing else to do.

“Now they are sent to their rooms but the parents don’t necessarily know what games they are playing.

“When they go upstairs and check that the kid is wired to shoot aliens for an hour – then they are told to go to sleep and they find it very difficult.”

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