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How Much Sleep Is Too Much for My Teen?

How Much Sleep Is Too Much for My Teen?

You probably know that restorative sleep is helpful for your mental and physical health. But, getting enough sleep and oversleeping are two different things.

Do you think your teen may be sleeping too much? In this blog, the providers at Generations Family Practice in Cary and Raleigh, North Carolina, explain how the sleep cycle affects teens, how much sleep teens should get, and what it could mean if they sleep too much.

Circadian rhythms, melatonin, and teens

People operate within a 24-hour-cycle called a circadian rhythm, and this rhythm drives mental, physical, and behavioral processes. In the context of sleep patterns, the circadian rhythm creates the sleep/wake cycle, which signals the body when it’s time to be active and alert and when it’s time to rest and sleep. The body naturally releases melatonin prior to the sleep cycle to tell the body that it’s time to wind down and go to bed.

Now let’s look at this in the context of teenagers. If your teen has trouble getting out of bed in the morning, you may blame it on late-night gaming or too many hours watching TikTok videos. And while staying up late won’t do them any favors, that’s not the whole story.

There’s also a biological reason that can give teens trouble getting up. During adolescence, their circadian rhythm changes, which delays the release of melatonin in the brain. Because of this, their bodies literally don’t get the message that it’s bedtime. As a result, they can have problems falling asleep before 11 p.m.

Getting the sleep they need

Now that you have a better understanding of the challenges teens face when it comes to sleeping, you should also know that experts recommend that teens get 9-9½ hours of sleep per night. This time of sleep is vital, because processes that occur during sleep help the body and brain change and grow in these critical years.

So, it’s crucial that you help your teen prioritize and get quality sleep. Toward that end, there are things you can do. For example, have them start winding down an hour or so before bed. During this time, limit their use of electronics, and don’t let them consume foods and drinks that may stimulate them, such as chocolate or substances with caffeine.

Oversleeping, depression, and sleep disorders

While making sure your teen gets enough sleep can be challenging, what if they seem to be sleeping too much? Should you be concerned? Maybe. Keep in mind that you are the best expert on your teen. Trust your instincts. If your child is constantly oversleeping and also seems to be withdrawing from social interactions or is having difficulty staying alert during the day, make an appointment with your health care provider.

While resolving oversleeping may just be a matter of buttoning up things a while before bed, sometimes it can be a symptom of a sleep disorder or even depression. In fact, oversleeping or excessive sleepiness in young adults and teens can be a warning sign. About 40% of adults under age 30 with depression also tend to oversleep.

If you’re concerned about your teen’s sleep habits, our providers can discuss the issue with you and your teen. Sometimes, simple suggestions on sleep hygiene are all that’s needed. At other times, a teen might benefit from counseling or other treatments. No matter your situation, our providers can help.

To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Generations Family Practice today.

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