We all know the importance of getting enough sleep: You’ll be healthier and more alert, and your body also needs the chance to reset. But as much as we all love to list “napping” and “sleeping in” as some of our fave activities, life always seems to get in the way of a full night’s sleep. If you’re failing to catch enough shut eye, you’re not alone; across all races and income levels, today’s teens are actually getting less sleep their counterparts did 20 years ago.
A new study conducted by the medical journal Pediatrics drummed home the usual “sleep more” message, and showed that teen millennials, as a generation, are getting less than the recommended nine hours of sleep per night. While that seems intuitive on its own, that information is super troubling: A sleeplessness epidemic affecting the people who need it most.
Think we’re being overly dramatic? Think again. While the body’s undergoing puberty, sleep is crucial not just to keep you awake during the day, but also to maintain a stable mental state while the body is undergoing a lot of changes. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a study measuring depression, hopelessness, and general anxiety in teens and found that the teens experiencing those feelings most were sleeping the least. Both under- and oversleeping can severely affect how you feel the day after, but serially missing out on sleep has repercussions that last far beyond your teenage years.
Of course, it’s easy to forget about your full nine hours when you’re trying to balance homework, extracurriculars, sports, Internet and social media, and friends on top of each other. But it’s time to prioritize; teens need to take back their sleep, and we’ve got some tips to help you get your optimal zzzs:
Don’t take your screens to bed.
Laptops, tablets, and cellphones are awesome and make life so much easier, but between the light they emit and the distractions they present, they are virtual sleep-sucking portals. Make a vow with yourself to keep all of your things with screens out of at least your bed, if not your bedroom outright. That next level of Candy Crush, or that Instagram tag search, can wait until morning light.