It’s hard enough being a teenager. Hormones are taking over, life is more complicated than ever—and in most places, you have to be at school before you feel halfway human in the morning.
A lot of the time, your day-to-day moods might be dismissed by adults as “just being a teenager.” Easy for them to say, right? But what if there was one simple, natural thing you could do to manage your emotions more easily and keep your mood steadier all day long?
There is. It’s as simple (and as challenging) as getting more sleep, more regularly. Teens need more than adults do—while your body and brain are still developing, those few extra hours are critical. But twenty to 25% of teens are going to school without adequate rest, day after day. And they’re paying a price for it — in their emotional lives and in their performance.
A new study reported in Medscape has shown that teens who are routinely sleep-deprived on school nights feel more anxious, angry, and confused during the day than do those who get a healthy amount of sleep. The 50 teen subjects slept at home, wired to actigraphs, for each week-long phase of the study. The first week they slept as they normally did, the second they were restricted to 6.5 hours, and the third they slept for 10 hours. On the fifth morning of each week, they filled out a Self-Report Profile of Mood States.
The study was conducted by the Neuropsychology Program of the Cincinatti Children’s Hospital Medical Center and presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies’ 27th annual meeting.
Need more reasons to get more ZZZs?
You also eat more sweets when you’re not getting enough sleep, the Cincinatti researchers have found. And it’s harder to think straight. Cognitive deficits can affect your school performance as well as your mood.
“We’re teaching society to be sleep-deprived,” said Dr. James Herdegen, director of the Sleep Science Center at the University of Illinois in Chicago, in a Reuters Health interview. And he wondered how that carries over to teens’ futures. “What happens when you have a whole semester of sleep deprivation? What happens at…day 30 and day 90?” Hundreds of studies point to the problems short sleep causes, but only you can make your own sleep a priority.
It’s not easy to resist staying up. But next time you’re trying to figure out how to cram in one more activity, or telling yourself that staying up for one more show or game won’t matter, think about how you really want to feel tomorrow.
Calm and clear, or miserably moody?
Commit to getting more sleep. On a great natural mattress would be nice, of course. But wherever you crash—do it earlier, do it longer, and you’ll feel better in the morning.