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The Importance of Sleep During Puberty

We all know, PMS can be a real pain! Help your daughter reduce moodiness and feel healthier every day with the right amount of sleep! Sounds relaxing, right?

Every girl needs the right amount of sleep during puberty. It turns out adolescents aren’t getting nearly as much sleep as they need, and sleep deprivation teens can be particularly hard on girls.

You may think it’s nothing to lose sleep over, but complications from menstrual cramps to picking the wrong protection can make it hard to sleep — and during her period, that’s a lot of sleep to lose.

Dr. Mary Carskadon, a sleep researcher, and professor at Brown University, knows how sleep is foundational to health.

“The benefit of sleep is huge. One of the main goals of adolescent development is to learn and to improve their intellectual capacity and adequate sleep affects that,” she says. Less sleep means less motivation to learn, slower recall, and less retention of information, which means less learning overall.

Girls can experience some emotional changes during puberty, and the lack of sleep can also affect their overall mood. From acting irritable to acting out, lack of sleep can cause kids to feel depressed, standoffish, and generally not themselves.

“Another downside that shows up is a loss of impulse control and greater risk-taking. We think of that as endemic to teenagers, but it gets worse when you don't have enough sleep,” Dr. Carskadon cautions. “It’s easier to flaunt it and take those risks and hammer down on the accelerator when they’re tired.”

But how much sleep should your daughter get? You may think if your daughter is getting eight hours, that’s enough, but Dr. Carskadon says adolescents need even more sleep than adults to help them grow. Some of them require over nine hours to perform their best. If she’s sleeping late on the weekend to catch up or falling asleep at other times, she needs more! The best way to get the best sleep is to plan for it.

“Parents have had instilled in them forever the notion of bedtime routines for their young kids, but they tend to drop it around adolescence. We all could benefit from that kind of bedtime routine.”

Here are some rules Dr. Carskadon has for setting that routine and sticking to it:

  • No caffeine for kids is a big one.

  • No naps after 4 p.m. because they can affect bedtime.

  • Set your body’s clock by using strong light in the morning and no light before bed. That means limiting screen time.

Sleep deprivation in teens is a modern issue. Young girls are especially prone to using their phones to chat with their friends when they should be sleeping.

“There’s nothing that’s more arousing than social interaction,” Dr. Carskadon says. “They leave their phone under their pillow then Susie calls and wakes them up and they have this intense conversation and it really eats into sleep.”

Dr. Carskadon suggests that parents can avoid this disturbance by setting rules for earlier in the evening.

“Create a family technology lockbox and put all the technology, including the parents’, into the box and don’t unlock it until a decent hour in the morning.”

And then there’s that time of the month. If menstrual cramps during sleep or back pain are keeping her awake, your daughter might need a heat pack and pain relievers. It’s also key that she picks the right protection for her flow so she doesn't have to wake up in the middle of the night and change.

Waking up in the middle of the night makes it hard to get the right sleep. When trying to get back to sleep, Dr. Carskadon warns that staying away from bright light is the best way. Otherwise, she might fool her internal clock into thinking it’s morning!

Following Dr. Carskadon’s advice to turn out the light may take a little adjustment, but making sure your daughter gets enough sleep will benefit her tremendously, especially in boosting her mood!

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