The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that teens aged 13-18 years of age sleep 8-10 hours per day. However, most teens stay up late at night, doing homework or talking with their friends or just watching Tik-Tok, YouTube or TV. A study that was done by CDC found that 58% of the middle school students and 73% of the high school students don’t get enough sleep!
“So what if I sleep less? I am fine”, maybe your teen will tell you.
You can’t force your child to make healthier choices, but if your teen struggles with their weight, here are 5 reasons you can share with them, that could convince them to reconsider their sleeping habits:
- Poor sleep increases a hormone called cortisol, which is the “stress hormone”. Cortisol is a hormone that helps body store fat. If you don’t sleep well, you can end up storing more fat than your body needs, instead of burning fat.
- Poor sleep can increase your cravings for sugary snacks and decrease your cravings for fruits/vegetables. A study that was done among 256 adolescents found that teens who slept more ate more fruits/vegetables and less junk food. If you sleep better, it’s a lot easier to make healthier food choices.
- Poor sleep makes it less likely for you to exercise. If you are tired, the last thing on your mind is to go and exercise. Research studies have shown that kids who sleep more tend to exercise more than kids who don’t sleep enough.
- Poor sleep can decrease the natural spikes of growth hormone. Growth hormone is a hormone that is secreted mainly during sleep at night-time and the earlier you sleep, the stronger the effects of the growth hormone. Growth hormone not only helps you become taller, but it helps you build more muscle, which makes you stronger and increases your daily metabolism. If your total % of body muscle mass is higher, you can burn more calories.
- Poor sleep can increase a hunger hormone, called “ghrelin”, and that makes you hungrier. Sure, you can “resist” hunger, but why not make it easier by sleeping better?
Your teenager doesn’t have to sleep 2 or 3 more hours to get benefits from better sleep.
Even sleeping 15-30 minutes more per day can make a big difference. Start small, and make slow progress. It is not going to happen all overnight. Small steps can produce HUGE results.
I talk more about sleep and other healthy habits at the “Lifestyle and Weight Loss For Teens” Podcast. I give new tips every week from scientific journals, that can help your teen build a Healthy Lifestyle.
You can find me on Apple Podcasts https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/lifestyle-and-weight-loss-for-teens/id1655708236
Last but not least, because a lot of teens and parents always tell me they don’t know what to eat, I put together a free recipe collection of 30 easy and healthy meals that are high in protein to satisfy your teen’s hunger. They can all be ready in less than 30 minutes!! You can grab it here for free:
Jenny Gourgari, MD
Dr Gourgari is a pediatric endocrinologist, certified in obesity medicine specialist and a weight loss coach for teens with more than 15 years of experience. For more information, visit www.lifestyleforteens.com