For years parents and educators have known that many teens do not get enough sleep to meet their health needs. Now there is a new culprit: their cell phones.
Parents may be unaware that many teens sleep with their cell phones by their side, answering calls or text messaging throughout the night.
Research has documented that, on average, teenagers have traditionally gotten about two hours less sleep every night than they need. This increases their risk of accidents and makes them moody.
In the past, this was caused by teens generally staying up too late and waking too early for the needs of their bodies. But these figures were calculated BEFORE the prevalence of cell phones.
According to research, teen bodies need nine hours and fifteen minutes of sleep per night. Prior to the advent of cell phones as bedmates, teens were getting an average of only seven hours of sleep per night. Now the numbers are far lower.
And fitful sleep, in short bursts, is not as healthful as uninterrupted sleep, so the health implications are far more grave than ever.
For example, of the estimated 100,000 car crashes a year linked to drowsy driving, almost half involve drivers age 16-24, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. What’s more, like all of us, teens get more emotional when they are sleep-deprived.
The best thing a parent can do to help teens get the sleep they need is to make sure there is no cell phone by their side when they go to bed. Period. Turn it off and take it away. It’s good parenting.