Explore our suite of self-care tools and resources to help you better understand and manage your mental health.
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!
Regular, adequate, and restful sleep recharges our bodies and minds, leaving us refreshed and alert when we awaken. This is beneficial for our:
It helps to consolidate memory (i.e., preserve key memories and discard excessive information) for better learning.
It helps in the development of the part of the brain used for memory.
It helps with mood regulation, the ability to control one’s mood and emotional state.
It helps to boost our immune system, while giving our body time to restore itself and replenish energy for the next day.
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.
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.
It is a general term to describe a state when we don’t have enough sleep, or poor quality sleep. The main signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation include feeling very tired during the day, reduced concentration, slower thinking, and mood changes.
Sleep deprivation can be caused by:
Changes in our bodies
I.e. changes to our biological sleep-wake cycles and feeling less sleepy at night.
Poor sleep hygiene
E.g. irregular bedtime routines and bedroom environments that do not encourage sleep.
E.g. staying up to binge-watch shows.
E.g. sleep apnoea, a breathing disorder that causes us to wake up all of a sudden.
Other medical conditions
E.g. anxiety disorder which includes persistent and excessive worry about activities/events, big or small.
Sleep deprivation is often a result of poor sleep hygiene. An example is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination (RBP) where we sacrifice sleep for more leisure time. In cases where our roles (or responsibilities) take up a significant portion of our day and we feel that we are left with very little time for leisure and relaxation, we may take “revenge” by pushing back our bedtimes to do the things we find fun and relaxing, e.g. gaming, engaging in social media, binge-watching shows. Although this can be tempting in the moment, late nights followed by early mornings can lead to sleep deprivation. Learn how to prevent this by picking up good sleep habits.
Being sleep deprived can affect our day-to-day lives. It can cause us to:
Over time, a persistent lack of sleep can pose the following risks to our physical and mental health:
Some research has found that people tend to consume more calories and carbohydrates when they are sleep deprived.
Mental health conditions
Poor sleep has strong associations with conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, a mental disorder that causes extreme mood swings.
Insufficient sleep appears to affect the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, increasing the risk of diabetes.
Compromised immune function
Sleep deficiency has been shown to lead to poorer immune function.
A sleep disorder is characterised by a disruptive sleep pattern that may include any of the following:
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
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”)
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)
Medications or drugs taken, including time of consumption and dose
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.
Changi General Hospital
Address:Level 2D (Lung Clinic & Integrated Sleep Centre)Level 8 (Sleep Laboratory)2 Simei Street 3Singapore 529889
Opening Hours:Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 5:30pmSat: 8:30am – 12:30pmClosed on Sun and PH
Tel: 6788 8833Appointment for SpecialistClinics: 6850 3333
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
Address:90 Yishun Central Singapore 768828
Opening Hours:Mon – Fri: 8:00am – 5:30pmSat: 8:00am – 1:00pmClosed on Sun and PH
Tel: 6555 8828
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
Address:100 Bukit Timah RdSingapore 229899
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Tel: 6225 5554
National Dental Centre Singapore
Address:5 Second Hospital AvenueSingapore 168938
Opening Hours:Mon – Fri: 8:00am – 5:30pmClosed on Sat, Sun and PH
Tel: 6324 8802
National Neuroscience Institute
Address:NNI @ TTSH CampusNeuroscience Clinic, Level 1National Neuroscience Institute11 Jalan Tan Tock SengSingapore 308433
Opening Hours (Clinic):Mon – Wed, Fri: 8:00am – 5:30pmThu: 8:00am – 5:00pmClosed on Sat, Sun and PH
Tel: 6330 6363
Address:NNI @ SGH CampusNeuroscience Clinic, Block 3Singapore General HospitalOutram RoadSingapore 169608
Opening Hours (Clinic):Mon – Fri: 8:00am – 6:00pmSat: 8:00am – 1:00pmClosed on Sun and PH
Tel: 6321 4377
Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
Address:1 Jurong East Street 21 Singapore 609606
Opening Hours:Tues – Fri: 8:30am – 12:30pmClosed on Mon, Sat, Sun and PH
Tel: 6716 2222
Sengkang General Hospital
Address:Medical Centre, Level 6E110 Sengkang East WaySingapore 544886
Opening Hours:Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 5:30pmClosed on Sat, Sun and PH
Tel: 6930 6000
Singapore General Hospital
Address:SingHealth Tower, Level 3 (Outram Community Hospital)
Opening Hours:Appointment-based; no walk-ins
Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Address:Level 1, TTSH Medical Centre11 Jalan Tan Tock SengSingapore 308433
Tel: 6357 7000
Our daily habits and sleep environment are very important to ensure a good night’s sleep and prevent sleep deprivation. Here are some self-help tips:
Avoid using electronics at least 30 mins before bedtime
The blue light coming from the phone/television/tablet suppresses melatonin, a hormone that supports our sleep/wake cycle. When our cycle is disrupted, we would feel less rested.Reading emails, sending texts, and checking social media, etc. can also stimulate our mind, making it harder for us to fall and remain asleep.
Practise relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation can help us calm our mind and body.
Read a book
Stick to an old-fashioned physical book, or use an e-reader, rather than a bright tablet or mobile phone.
Listen to relaxing music
Slow and soothing music can help us feel relaxed and at ease, making it easier for us to fall asleep.Once we integrate music into our bedtime routine, we should stick with it. It will become a habit that signals to our body to prepare for rest.Check out this playlist that can help us sleep better.
Avoid going to bed with an overly full belly. It will make us feel uncomfortable and could keep us awake longer. Sometimes, heartburn or gas will further increase the discomfort, and affect sleep. Also, avoid having large meals or late-night snacks before bed-time. Instead, have light and healthy snacks like low-fat yoghurt, a cup of milk, or a serving of fruit.
Moderate-to-vigorous physical activities help us fall asleep more quickly and improve our sleep quality. Being exposed to sunlight while exercising outdoors helps our body regulate its sleep/wake cycle. Exercise also leads to changes in body temperature that help us get a good night’s sleep. Current science suggests the best time to exercise for better sleep differs from person to person.Try exercising at different times to determine an exercise schedule that works best for us and helps us sleep better. Stay active with our exercise tips!
Stick to a bedtime routine
The consistency of a routine signals to our body and brain to sleep. Create a routine and schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (including weekends).
Stay away from caffeine at night
Caffeinated drinks, such as energy drinks, are stimulants that can temporarily make us feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increase adrenaline production.
Keep our sleep environment comfortable
Block out light using thick curtains or eye shades, and consider using earplugs to shut out loud noises.
Avoid evening naps
Napping later in the evening may disrupt our ability to fall asleep at night. Research has shown that the best time to take a power nap is in the early to mid-afternoon, and the nap should last approximately 10 to 20 minutes.
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.
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