Sleep patterns often change when kids hit puberty. Traditionally, the explanation for this drop to less than 9 hours of sleep per night was biological. Doctors attributed sleep loss to puberty and hormonal changes. Dr. David J. Maume, sociology professor at the University of Cincinnati, directed a recent study that looked at adolescents’ relationships, finding that they influenced teens’ sleep more than the hormonal changes they experienced.
The study tracked 1,000 teens from the time they were 12 until they reached age 15. Participants were given questionnaires that asked about various aspects of their life, including how they slept at night and details about their relationships with their parents and peers at school.
When participants reached aged 15, they were sleeping an average of 7.8 hours per night, a significant drop from the 9.2 hours per night when they began the study. For adolescents who had parents who managed and set a bedtime, they adopted better sleeping habits. Furthermore, teens who maintained healthy relationships with their peers, and spent time with other teens who participated in school activities and adopted a positive outlook on school and work, slept better overall.
While biological factors play a significant part in adolescents’ lives, it is important to consider the importance of relationships and their role in health. Teens whose parents were no longer together showed a more disrupted sleep pattern. Additionally, teens that used technology right before bed did not sleep as well as those whose parents kept their cells phones and computers out of their children’s bedrooms at bed time.
“When adolescents have trouble sleeping, doctors often recommend prescription drugs to address the problem,” Maume said in an interview with PsychCentral. He suggests, however, strengthening relationships and becoming more involved in kids’ lives, rather than turning immediately to medication.
Read more about how to adopt a healthy sleep pattern here.
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