The unfortunate truth is that most teens need far more slumber than they are getting: The recommended amount of shut-eye for children ages 14 to 17 is eight to 10 a night, but most rack up just seven-and-a-half hours a night. That’s one to two hours of sleep deprivation, on average, every night, which can lead to major sleep debt and wreak havoc on a teen’s mental and physical health.
A hectic schedule and staying up until the wee hours doing homework, watching Netflix, or texting friends is sometimes partly to blame, but a teen’s internal body clock or circadian rhythm plays a large role, too. Children’s circadian rhythms change during the teen years, making it harder for them to fall asleep at an early hour and also get up at an early hour. So come Saturday, it’s understandable why your teen is often exhausted and tends to want to sleep late. And that extra shut-eye is actually beneficial, boosting brain health to improve memory and learning.
But it is possible for your teenager to snooze for far too long on the weekends. Encourage your child to stay in bed only an hour or two past the usual weekday wake-up time, which will help him or her catch up on sleep after a busy week. Sleeping-in until noon, however, can completely throw off your child’s body clock, making it even harder for them to wake up and go to bed on time during the week. And if your child constantly sleeps in until midday on weekends, it could be a red flag that something more serious is wrong, such as a sleep disorder or depression.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns, and in the meantime, encourage your teen to adopt healthy sleep habits. Sticking to roughly the same bedtime and wakeup schedule—even on Saturdays and Sundays—eating nutritiously, avoiding caffeine, exercising regularly, and logging off from tech devices at least an hour before bedtime will all help keep a teen’s internal clock balanced so that he or she is more likely to get a healthy amount of sleep.