Seven Signs Your Teen Is Sleep Deprived

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…And Seven Tips To Prevent Severe Fatigue

Does your teenager always want to sleep in the morning? Does he or she mope around in the morning? Do they drag to school? Most do. It turns out that there’s usually a valid reason for this behavior.

According to the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders, tweens and teens need 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep each day. Between homework, part-time jobs and social activities, teens rarely seem to reach that ideal amount. Consequently, tweens and teens can become irritable and moody. Admittedly, it can be difficult to tell whether it’s sleep deprivation or teen hormonal changes that are the cause of the moodiness. Just know that the lack of sleep may be contributing to the problem.

Seven Signs of Sleep Deprivation

So how do you know? Here are seven signs that your child might be sleep-deprived:

  1. Moods. As mentioned, the teen can be moody or irritable and barely moping around the house. Sluggishness is the characteristic that differentiate from regular teenage moodiness.


  1. Falling asleep in class. If a teacher lets you know that your daughter or son has been falling asleep in class, this is a real red flag. Some classes can be boring, but this is a sign of real exhaustion.


  1. Poor appetite. Too often, teens eat less at a meal or skip a meal altogether (frequently, breakfast). This sets them up to snack on carbohydrates and sweets. Unhealthy snacking (carbs and sweets rather than protein and veggies) can lead to side effect number four.


  1. Weight gain. Increased use of carbs and sugar, especially without a corresponding amount of protein, usually results in weight gain.


  1. Insulin sensitivity. Trouble balancing insulin levels can set the stage for a range of metabolic issues such as Type 2 diabetes and, the old standby, weight gain.


  1. Concentration. The ability to concentrate begins to fade. This means teens have trouble focusing on what’s being said in class or the details of homework.


  1. Academic performance. Without the ability to concentrate or the motivation to seriously address homework, academic performance will suffer. Pulling a late-night cramming session makes most students all the more tired the next day and leaves them with reduced recall for the big exam.

Seven Tips To Reduce Sleep Deprivation

  1. Keep a regular study schedule. Stay with homework and reading on a daily basis so that he or she doesn’t get behind. Schedule homework when they get home and/or right after dinner so that they can finish before it is time for bed.


  1. Homework should take priority over TV, music, texting, etc.


  1. Turn off all electronic gadgetry earlier in the evening, even when the homework is done. Try to shoot for an hour before bedtime. This gives the mind time to unwind and slow down from friends’ social activity and action TV or video games. This, in turn, allows the mind to relax and focus on resting.


  1. Constant bedtime. While it may sound a little juvenile to a teen, establishing a regular time to crash for the night is healthy. It gets mind and body into a rhythm that allows for a more defined sleep cycle.


  1. Caffeine. No caffeine after about 2 p.m. because it takes the body about eight hours to thoroughly metabolize any caffeine intake.


  1. Food. Kids shouldn’t eat after about eight at night so that the heavy digestion is complete before it is time to sleep. If the body goes to bed with a full stomach, it spends effort and blood flow on digestion rather than sleep. Be especially careful of sugar because it can act as a stimulant much like caffeine.


  1. White noise. If a teen has trouble falling asleep or if an adjacent area of the home is noisy, try a white noise device of some kind. The sound of a flowing stream or falling rain will often lull a person to sleep. Please note: I said “white noise,” not a rap tape.

In short, watch for the signs of sleep deprivation in your tweens or teens. If they’re moping around, then measure their world against the suggestions above. Better yet, make sure these routines are in place now.

About the Author: Sonia Holt is the parent of two daughters and a grandparent. She has combined this experience with her husband’s Bob’s 35 years of experience as a safety consultant to develop an information source for parents, grandparents and caregivers in the arena of child safety. If this article was helpful, please join them at for more practical information on kids’ health and safety.

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