Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital

Teen Sleep Habits

Quality sleep is an important part of development for teenagers.

There is only ONE safe, all-natural, totally legal, and completely free energy supplement and performance enhancer: SLEEP!

Early school start times, homework, extracurricular activities, work schedules and social lives can make meeting sleep goals tough.  Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep can be harmful to many parts of your life, including:

  • Health: Higher risk of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure

  • Mood: Increased risk of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts

  • Behavior: Aggression, substance use, reckless driving and other dangerous risk-taking behaviors

  • School: Difficulty concentrating, falling asleep in class, tardiness and absences, and trouble with memory, problem-solving and creativity

  • Sports: Slower reaction time and accuracy, higher risk of injury, longer recovery times and decreased muscle building and endurance

  • Driving: Slower ability to react, more easily distracted, increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel

Frequently Asked Questions

How much sleep do I really need?

Teens need about nine hours of sleep each night.  You actually need more sleep than when you were younger.

Why don’t I feel ready for bed as early as I used to?

After puberty, your natural sleep cycle shifts about two hours. For example, if you used to fall asleep around 8 p.m., you may not feel tired now until around 10 p.m. Having a relaxing bedtime routine can help.

If I don’t get enough sleep on school nights, can’t I just catch up over the weekend?

No, it’s best to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends.

I snore every night and feel tired during the day. Is there anything I can do?

Nighttime snoring and daytime sleepiness may be signs of a condition called obstructive sleep apnea. It can be serious but is treatable. You should tell your doctor as soon as possible.

10 Tips to Improve Sleep

  1. Make the bedroom relaxing. Keep the room uncluttered, cool (less than 75°F), quiet and dark to help you fall asleep. Use your bed just for sleeping, not for studying, eating, playing games or watching TV.
  2. Avoid screens (TV, video games, social media, texting) at least one hour before going to bed.
  3. Exercise daily. At least 30 minutes of exercise each day helps you sleep better and improves your overall health. 
  4. Limit naps. Keep naps to 30 minutes or less—and not within four hours of bedtime—to avoid having trouble falling asleep at night.
  5. Snack smarter. If you’re hungry before bed, have a light, healthy snack, such as low-fat milk and whole grain toast or nuts and fresh fruit. 
  6. Limit caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that keeps you awake. In the evening, avoid caffeine-containing products: coffee, energy drinks, teas, sodas and chocolate.
  7. Get some fresh air. Spending time outside every day helps improve the quality of your sleep. Try to spend at least 15 minutes outside today.
  8. Avoid lying in bed awake. If you do not fall asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing, like reading, until you feel tired. Then try again. 
  9. Avoid sleep aids. Avoid using over-the-counter sleeping pills unless recommended by your doctor. 
  10. Avoid substance use. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, nicotine and vape products have many harmful effects, including making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Still have questions? Come see us.

Our adolescent medicine team has special training to meet the unique needs of teens. We're here to help guide you and answer any questions you might have.

The information here is not intended to be nor should be used as a substitute for medical evaluation or treatment by a health care professional. This publication is for information purposes only and the reader assumes all associated risks.

Created experts: Alana Koehler, M.D., Aaron Samide, M.D.  and Jasmine Reese, M.D., M.P.H.

References:

  1. CDC. (2018, November 8). Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel. Retrieved from cdc.gov/features/dsdrowsydriving/index.html
  2. Hagenauer, M. H., Perryman, J. I., Lee, T. M., & Carskadon, M. A. (2009). Adolescent changes in the homeostatic and circadian regulation of sleep. Developmental Neuroscience, 31(4), 276 –284. doi:10.1159/000216538
  3. Ming, X., Koransky, R., Kang, V., Buchman, S., Sarris, C. E., & Wagner, G. C. (2011). Sleep insufficiency, sleep health problems and performance in high school students. Clinical medicine insights. Circulatory, respiratory and pulmonary medicine, 5, 71–79. doi:10.4137/CCRPM.S7955
  4. Owens, J. (2014). Insufficient Sleep in Adolescents and Young Adults: An Update on Causes and Consequences. Pediatrics, 134(3). doi:10.1542/peds.2014-1696
  5. Paruthi, S., Brooks, L. J., Dambrosio, C., Hall, W. A., Kotagal, S., Lloyd, R. M., Wise, M. S. (2016). Recommended Amount of Sleep for Pediatric Populations: A Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 12(06), 785-786. doi:10.5664/jcsm.5866
  6. Taylor, A., Wright, H. R., & Lack, L. C. (2008). Sleeping-in on the weekend delays circadian phase and increases sleepiness the following week. Sleep and Biological Rhythms,6(3), 172-179. doi:10.1111/j.1479- 8425.2008.00356 .x
  7. Watson, A. M. (2017). Sleep and Athletic Performance. Current Sports Medicine Reports,16(6), 413-418. doi:10.1249/jsr.0000000000000418