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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How important is sleep for teenagers?

    Should teenagers be getting certain amounts of sleep?

    What happens if they don't get enough?

    How will this impact their performance in their daily lives?

    Why is sleep so important?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Daniel Bonnar

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist


    Sleep is as critical to our functioning and well-being as the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Just to name a few roles, sleep is thought to be important for conservation of energy and restoration, learning, memory, and emotional processing.

    In terms of sleep need, the National Sleep Foundation’s latest recommendations state that teenagers (14-17) require between 8-10hrs of sleep per night. However, research from around the world clearly shows that most teenagers regularly aren’t getting enough sleep.

    As you would expect, there are lots of negative consequences linked with chronic sleep loss. Some examples include excessive sleepiness, attention and concentration problems, poor school performance, memory issues, irritability, and depressed mood.

    I hope this information is helpful.


  • 1


    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    Yes, teens do need their sleep! Teenagers have particular challenges with sleeping, because of the changes happening for them in their bodies and brains. Melatonin is a chemical that our body releases to start our sleep cycle - in teens melatonin is released much later in the evening than for children or adults. This means that teens really struggle to go to bed early, and even where parents enforce an earlier bedtime they may lie awake for a long time, and struggle to get up early in the morning. Things that can help teens with their sleep include a good bedtime routine that needs to include no 'screen time' for a couple of hours before bed - blue light from TVs. computers and other electonic devices can interfere with melatonin production. If possible, try to allow your teen to get up a little later - this is not always realistic with the demands of school and work schedules! However, because of their later (biologically determined) melatonin release at night, this may be where they can find more sleep hours. Some schools, armed with this more recent information about teen development, are experimenting with later school start-times. All the best!

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