The Affect of Poor Sleep on Teens

Breathing and Sleep Center of Colorado Springs
As a general rule, teens need an average of 8 to 10 hours of sleep at night. Unfortunately, most of them are not getting this because they place a higher priority on school, homework, friends, activities, the internet, and TV. In fact, research shows that 75% to 80% of high school seniors are getting less than 8 hours of sleep every night. This lack of sleep, though it may not seem dangerous at first, can have a significant impact on your teen’s health and well-being.

In some cases, sleep disturbances are due to sleep apnea. At Breathing and Sleep Center in Colorado Springs, we can help teen patients who suffer from sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing due to an underdeveloped jaw.

How Does Lack of Sleep Impact Teens?

Most parents focus on the academic problems that come with a lack of sleep. When teens don’t get adequate sleep, they are not able to focus, so their grades may suffer. However, this is not the only thing affected by poor sleep.


While mood swings and behavioral issues are often attributed to surging hormones, sleep loss may also produce both cognitive and psychosocial deficits. Teens that are not getting adequate sleep have more anxiety and depression, as well as suicidal thoughts. Sleep loss can also impact the executive functioning and self-control areas of the brain, causing aggression, impulsive/risk-taking behaviors, and hyperactivity.

Physical Development

Sleep has an effect on the hormones needed for sexual maturation and growth, as this is when they are released. For example, testosterone and growth hormones are released when a teen falls asleep- and if they are not getting adequate sleep, they may not reach their optimal height.

Athletic Performance

According to the experts, sleep is critical for physical performance/recovery, as well as building muscle and preventing traumatic injury. Sleep deprivation reduces coordination and reaction time. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, teen athletes who sleep at least 8 hours every night were 68% less likely to be injured than those who slept less than 8 hours.


When teens don’t get adequate sleep, their appetite and drive for food increases and they snack more, which put them at risk for weight gain. In fact, this puts them on the path to obesity, which is a lot harder to deal with once they become adults. Studies have found a link between obesity in adults and lack of sleep in the childhood and teenage years.

Tips for Getting More Sleep

Like most good habits, good sleep habits start at home. Good sleep hygiene should be a family affair. After all, sleep is important for all ages- especially teens.

  1. Set a reasonable bedtime for school nights and weekends
  2. Stop caffeine after lunch or, if possible, completely get rid of it
  3. Set limits on screen time
  4. Put phones on airplane mode at night
  5. Practice relaxation before bedtime

Is Your Teen Struggling to Sleep?

If your teen isn’t getting the sleep they need, it could be due to sleep apnea. At Breathing and Sleep Center in Colorado Springs, we work with patients of all ages. We can work with your teen to determine if they have sleep apnea. If they do and it’s due to an underdeveloped jaw, we will be happy to help. We can help your teen get the sleep they need!


Skip to content