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Nemours

Nemours
Providing pediatric care through
the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children,
Nemours Children's Hospital, and
primary and specialty care practices
in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida


How Much Sleep Do I Need?

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Most teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. Getting the right amount of sleep is important for anyone who wants to do well on a test or play their best in sports. Unfortunately, many teens don't get enough sleep.

Why Don't Teens Get Enough Sleep?

Teens often got a bad rap for staying up late, oversleeping for school, and falling asleep in class. But teen sleep patterns are different from those of adults or younger kids.

During the teen years, the body's rhythm (an internal biological clock) is reset, telling a person to fall asleep later and wake up later. This change is likely due to the brain hormone , which is released later at night for teens than it is for kids and adults. This can make it harder for teens to fall asleep early.

Changes in the body's circadian rhythm coincide with a busy time in life. For most teens, the pressure to do well in school is more intense and it's harder to get by without studying hard. And teens have other time demands — everything from sports and other extracurricular activities to working a part-time job. Using electronics — including phones, tablets, and computers — also makes it hard to fall sleep. Many teens are up late texting friends, playing games, and watching videos.

Early school start times also play a role in lost sleep. Teens who fall asleep after midnight still have to get up early for school, meaning that they might squeeze in only 6 or 7 hours, or less, of sleep a night. A few hours of missed sleep a night may not seem like a big deal, but it can create a noticeable sleep deficit over time.

Why Is Sleep Important?

Sleep is important for you to be at your best. Teens need sleep to:

  • pay attention and learn in school
  • improve athletic performance
  • grow and develop normally
  • be healthy 

Lost sleep can lead to poor grades, relationship problems, and drowsy driving. Falling asleep while driving can cause serious car accidents.

People with ongoing sleep deficits can have:

  • health problems, like heart disease and obesity
  • trouble fighting infections
  • emotional problems, like depression

Am I Getting Enough Sleep?

Even if you think you're getting enough sleep, you might not be. You may need more sleep if you:

  • have a hard to wake up in the morning
  • have trouble concentrating
  • are falling asleep during classes
  • feel irritable, moody, sad, or depressed

How Can I Get More Sleep?

Here are some things that may help you to sleep better:

Set regular bed and wake up times. Try to stick to your sleep schedule, within an hour or two, even on weekends.

Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help you sleep better. Try not to exercise right before bed, though. Exercise can rev you up and make it harder to fall asleep.

Avoid caffeine. Don't drink beverages with caffeine, such as soda, tea, and coffee, after dinner. Nicotine (smoking and vaping) and alcohol in the evening can make a person restless and interrupt sleep.

Unwind by keeping the lights low. Light signals the brain that it's time to wake up. Staying away from bright lights (including device screens), listening to soothing music, or meditating before bed can help your body relax.

Turn off electronics. Don't use your phone (including texting), tablets, computer, or TV at least 1 hour before you go to bed.

Don't nap too much. Naps of more than 30 minutes during the day and naps too close to bedtime may keep you from falling asleep later.

Create the right sleeping environment. People sleep best in a dark room that is slightly on the cool side. Use a nature sounds or white-noise machine (or app) if you need to block out a noisy environment.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2019