Is Your Teen too Emotional? She May Just Need More Sleep.

Trust me, I’m not trying to disregard the very real mood swings, hormonal  shifts or menstrual effects that happen during the teen years. But, not getting enough sleep can exacerbate any and all of these conditions. The average teen gets roughly 5 hours of sleep nightly during a school week. That’s just not enough. The human body is still growing and the brain still forming until age 25. Sleep plays a vital part in the growth of a healthy body and mind. Many teens try to make up for this sleep deprivation on the weekends by sleeping those two days away, but that doesn’t really balance things out.

I started thinking about teens and sleep after interviewing a 16-year-old girl at one of the high schools in San Francisco. She was extremely emotional throughout the interview even when discussing non-emotional issues. She became teary-eyed every time she spoke. Even if I made the conversation light hearted and joked, she still had watery eyes. This was all a bit extreme, even for a 16-year-old girl.  So, I asked her if she’s always this emotional and she said “pretty much.” Finally, she said something that clicked during our conversation. She said that she was stressed and exhausted all the time. So, I asked her how much sleep she gets a night. She said, probably 3 or 4 hours. I told her that may be the problem or at least part of her problem. Not getting enough sleep can make anyone irritable and more emotional. Just ask any new mom or graduate students trying to complete a thesis. Small spurts of relief on the weekends, just doesn’t repair the system fully. Next time your teen seems a bit moody or irritable, first ask her if she’s sleeping enough. The average teen should be getting between 8 and 9 hours of sleep nightly for peak health. Check in with your teen on her sleep habits from time to time. Help teach healthy sleep patterns and encourage them to get to bed at a consistent time nightly.

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About Carol Langlois
Dr Carol is a former University Dean and Associate Provost, trained therapist, researcher, educational consultant and writer. During her training, she counseled hundreds of clients in one-on-one sessions as well as in group settings where her work was with college freshman dealing with transitional and developmental issues on campus. Her primary research focus is female self-esteem development among teens. Her published dissertation “The effects of single gender versus coeducational environments on the self-esteem development and academic competence of high school females” focused on 15 year old girls in the Bay Area where her research findings showed disturbingly low levels of self-esteem across the board. This staggering discovery has led her to further research this topic. She is working on her second book called Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image, which is a compilation of interviews with teens girls on the topic of self-esteem while offering an effective and practical system designed to RAISE (Resilience, Attitude, Independence, Self-Respect and Empowerment) teen self-esteem. In addition, she runs groups for non-profits interested in adding self-esteem training into their overall mission.

4 Responses to Is Your Teen too Emotional? She May Just Need More Sleep.

  1. I so agree with you. Tweens and teens need enough sleep. Being a tween or teen is already such a busy time, enough sleep and healthy food make it easier to deal with growth and development.
    It helps to learn a tween to see how important sleep is and how a long nights refreshes them. If they see that, they will act on it better.

  2. Miriam says:

    My teens are all grown & gone from home BUT this has me thinking I need more sleep, thanks for sharing!

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