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The importance
of sleeping well

The importance of sleeping well

Our teenage years are a formative period. The brain and body experience significant development, and the transition to adulthood brings important changes that affect emotions, social and family life.

Many teens who are undergoing puberty may also experience changes in their sleep, for instance, later bedtimes and wake-up times as well as finding it harder to sleep due to the changes in their body’s internal clock.

Yet, sleep is essential during this time because it allows us to be at our best. Let’s learn more about sleep health and how teenagers like us can have better sleep!

Why do we need sleep?

Regular, adequate, and restful sleep recharges our bodies and minds, leaving us refreshed and alert when we awaken.

This is beneficial for our:

Learning

Learning

It helps to consolidate memory (i.e., preserve key memories and discard excessive information) for better learning.

Brain

Brain

It helps in the development of the part of the brain used for memory.

Mental well-being

Mental well-being

It helps with mood regulation, the ability to control one’s mood and emotional state.

Health

Health

It helps to boost our immune system, while giving our body time to restore itself and replenish energy for the next day.

What happens when we sleep?

We usually pass through four sleep stages. These stages progress in a continuous cycle from Stage 1 to 4 (which is known as the rapid eye movement, or REM stage). Sleep cycles vary from person to person.

On average, each sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes and repeats several times throughout the night.

What happens when we sleep?

A good night’s sleep should leave us feeling refreshed, alert, and ready to begin the day.

International recommendations for sleep duration depend on age. For those who are 11 to 13 years old, it is recommended they aim for 9 to 11 hours of sleep. For those aged 14 to 17, the recommended sleep duration is 8 to 10 hours each day.

How much sleep do we need?

What is a sleep disorder?

A sleep disorder is characterised by a disruptive sleep pattern that may include
any of the following:

  • Abnormal behaviour associated with sleep (e.g. sleepwalking)
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Excessive total sleep time
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times
What is a sleep disorder?
What are some of the common symptoms?
  • Needing multiple caffeinated drinks to make it through the day
  • Often appearing tired and/or feeling fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating at home or school
  • Feeling sleepy or irritable during the day
  • Difficulty staying awake while sitting
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Memory problems
  • Slowed reaction
  • Snoring

We may experience difficulty sleeping at some points in our lives. If the issue persisted for at least a month, caused significant emotional distress and interfered with our functioning in school or in social settings, we could consider keeping a sleep record.

The sleep record, either in the form of a sleep diary or tracker, could allow us to calculate our total sleep time, identify sleep disruptions and other unknown factors that may influence our sleep.

It would also serve as useful information for the healthcare professional to make a diagnosis on whether we have a sleep disorder.

The sleep record should include:

The time we went to bed and woke up

The time we went to bed
and woke up

Total sleep hours and how we felt the quality of sleep was

Total sleep hours and how we felt the quality of sleep was

A record of the time we spent awake and what we did (e.g. “got up, had a glass of milk”, “stayed in bed with eyes closed”)

A record of the time we spent awake and what we did (e.g. “got up, had a glass of milk”, “stayed in bed with eyes closed”)

Types and amount of food, liquids, or caffeine we consumed before bed, plus the frequency of consumption

Types and amount of food, liquids, or caffeine we consumed before bed, plus the frequency of consumption

Our feelings and mood before bed (e.g. stress, anxiety, low mood)

Our feelings and mood before bed (e.g. stress, anxiety, low mood)

Medications or drugs taken, including time of consumption and dose

Medications or drugs taken, including time of consumption and dose

Sleep centers

If we are concerned about our sleep, or if our sleep problems persist, are bothersome or interfere with how we feel or function during the day, we can let our parents know and get them to accompany us to seek advice from a healthcare professional at any of the Sleep Centres listed below.

What if we cannot fall asleep?

Lying awake in bed for too long can create an unhealthy mental association between our sleeping environment and staying awake. Instead, we should create positive associations that promote thoughts and feelings that encourage sleep.

If we cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes, we should not force ourselves to stay in bed. We should get up and do another activity, e.g. go to another part of our house and do something relaxing, such as reading or listening to soothing music.

What if we cannot fall asleep?

References

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