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How Many Hours of Sleep Do Teens Need?

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Just like adults, teenagers need a certain amount of sleep per night. In general, experts recommend that teenagers get somewhere between eight and 10 hours1 of sleep per night to function well physically and mentally. Not getting this amount of sleep can result in mood disorders, behavioral issues, and health problems.1  

So, how does sleep benefit teenagers specifically, and why does it seem like teens aren’t getting enough sleep? We’ll answer these questions and provide some tips on how to improve your teenager’s sleep habits.  

Teens and Sleep

Sleep is necessary to refuel, recharge, and restore our bodies. As important as it is for adults, it’s more critical2 for teens. Their bodies and brains are still developing – especially around the age of puberty – which makes sleep even more important for them.2 

After puberty, adolescents experience a shift in their biological clock3 by about two hours. This means that a child who easily went to sleep around 9:00 p.m. before puberty might not get tired until about 11:00 p.m. after puberty. Additionally, their natural wake-up time will shift to around two hours later than they did during childhood. 

Unfortunately, school schedules do not accommodate this shift in circadian rhythm. The average high school start time in the U.S. is 8:00 a.m.4 – right about the time your teen would be waking up based on this change. 

Explore: Beds for Teenagers

How Much Sleep Do Teenagers Need?

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), teenagers should get between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night.1 

However, most teens fall short of this, getting an average of only about 7 hours of sleep per night.3  

Importance of Sleep for Adolescents


Lack of proper sleep hurts a teen’s cognitive abilities. This translates to poor memory, inability to make decisions or exercise good judgment, difficulty paying attention, and poor reaction time.3 

Compromising cognitive function can mean poor performance in school and sports, possibly leading to bodily harm. A key sign of compromised cognitive function5 is reduced ability to problem-solve.

Behavioral and Social

Not getting enough rest affects different parts of the brain, and one of the main portions of the brain that suffers most from sleep deprivation is the amygdala, which controls the fight-or-flight response6. When the amygdala is impacted by sleep deprivation, research shows this can cause physical and verbal aggression, anxiety, low energy, or brain fog. This is true for children, teens, and adults alike.6 


Lack of sleep can make anyone irritable, but sleep-deprived teenagers may have a negative outlook on life, become excessively emotional, and, in extreme cases, too little sleep can make teenagers depressed or suicidal.3

Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Teens

Worse Mood

As we mentioned, sleep deprivation affects the amygdala, and this can lead to more irritability, anger, anxiety, depression, and mood swings.6 If your teen gets frustrated more easily or seems upset about trivial matters, check to ensure they are getting enough sleep.

Negative Behavior 

Sleep deprivation rewires the brain to limit reason and judgment in favor of impulsiveness and irrational behavior. Teens who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to take unnecessary and even dangerous risks like unsafe sex, drunk driving, speeding, or other dangerous behaviors.3 

Trouble Concentrating and Learning

The inability to think clearly is a classic symptom of sleep deprivation.3 For teens, cognitive ability is crucial for academic performance, and research shows that sleep-deprived teenagers consistently do poorer in school7

One night of sleep deprivation can negatively impact academic performance the next day, while, conversely, consistently getting enough sleep positively impacts grade point average.7 

Physical Health

Not regularly getting enough sleep can take a toll on your teen’s physical health. For example, sleep deprivation8 is linked to chronic health issues like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and depression. People who don’t get enough sleep are also more likely to get sick and stay sick longer9 since sleep plays a crucial role in keeping our immune systems functioning properly.9

Aside from an increased likelihood of chronic health issues and sickness, people who don’t get enough sleep are also more likely to get injured10 – especially those who are athletes. In one study, people who got less than the recommended amount of sleep were 1.7 times more likely to get injured during sports.10 

Drowsy Driving

If your teen drives, you should monitor their sleeping schedule closely. Teenagers who don’t get enough rest are more likely to doze off at the wheel.3 In fact, young drivers are the most likely to fall asleep at the wheel out of any age group11. It doesn’t help that one of the peak times for this to happen is between 3:00-4:00 p.m., a time when they’re most likely to be on the road on the way home from school.3

The other likely time to fall asleep at the wheel is between 2:00-4:00 a.m.3 If your teen has been out with friends and is driving home, this is also a peak time for drunk drivers to be on the road. Tired teenagers, combined with drunk drivers, can make roadways dangerous. 

Why Teens Aren’t Sleeping Enough


As we discussed, during puberty, an adolescent’s natural circadian rhythm changes by about two hours.3 This is because the production of the hormone melatonin is shifting during this time12, so teenagers will feel more awake later in the night and want to sleep in later in the mornings.

Unfortunately, most school schedules do not accommodate this natural shift in the circadian rhythm. 

School Start Time 

Most teenagers’ natural bedtime would be sometime after 11:00 p.m.12 If teenagers need eight to 10 hours of sleep per night, this could have them waking up sometime around 8:00-9:00 a.m., but most high schools start at 8:00 a.m. or before.4 With the time it takes to wake up, get ready for school, and travel there, this early start time simply doesn’t allow for enough sleep for most teenagers.

Learn More: School Start Times

Extracurricular Activities and After-School Jobs

Extracurricular activities among teens have been increasing over the years13. This means that many teenagers leave school to go to an extracurricular activity or after-school job. Once they get home, they often still have homework to do. As you might imagine, this could lead to a late bedtime. 

Screen Time

The average U.S. teen spends about nine hours per day14 looking at screens. 

Too much screen time can lead to a host of issues for teens, including difficulty sleeping.15 Using smartphones and tablets to peruse social media stimulates dopamine15, a feel-good chemical that could make it harder for teens to want to put the phone down at bedtime. Also, the blue light from the screens inhibits melatonin production16, which can leave them feeling more alert. 

Mental Health

Sleep and mental health have a cyclical relationship17. People with mental health issues are less likely to get quality sleep, and in turn, not getting adequate sleep can negatively impact a person’s mental health.17 

This is why good sleep is particularly important for today’s teens, who are already struggling more with mental health18 than previous generations. 

Tips to Help Teenagers Get More Sleep

  • Sleep schedule – If your teen struggles to get enough sleep, ensure they have a consistent sleep schedule by having them go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning. This can help train their body to feel tired at their appropriate bedtime. This schedule should remain consistent on the weekends as well.
  • Relaxing nightly routine – Have your teen set up a regular nighttime routine to help them relax for bed (that doesn’t involve a cell phone or other screen device). This may look like taking a bath, reading a book, or listening to music. 
  • Regular exercise – If your teen is already getting regular exercise, that’s great. If not, though, consider finding ways that they can have more physical activity in their daily routine, such as school sports, after-school athletic clubs, or a gym membership. The reason for this is that exercise is helpful for falling asleep more quickly and improving sleep quality19.
  • Avoid naps – Sleep-deprived teens may be tempted to nap after school, but studies show that late or frequent naps can lead to trouble sleeping at night20. If your teen must nap, we recommend limiting it to as early in the day as possible and for just 15 to 20 minutes. 
  • Keep commitments manageable – If your teen’s schedule is so full that it keeps them up late at night, it might be time to cut back on some commitments. Perhaps this means your teen only has time for one after-school activity during a particular semester. For example, maybe they’re on the football team during the fall, but once football season ends, then they’d have time for an after-school job. 
  • Address mental health – As we mentioned, sleep can hinder mental health, and teens are showing an increasing trend in mental health struggles. 17, 18 If your teen is struggling with anxiety, depression, loneliness, neurodevelopmental disorders, eating disorders, or any other form of emotional or mental distress, talk to them. You might also see if they’re open to seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist if that is an option for you. 

Teen Sleep FAQs

Should adolescents sleep more if they are involved in athletics?

Yes, teens who play sports need to rest more than their less active peers. Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City recommends up to 11 hours21 of sleep per night for serious student-athletes.

Not only will it help enhance mood and alertness, but it can also increase performance, accuracy, and reaction times. It’s also necessary for tissue repair and restoration. By contrast, being in a deficit harms all of these measures, and student-athletes who don’t get enough sleep are at a higher risk for injury.21

Why does my teenager like to sleep in on the weekends?

If your teen rolls out of bed at noon most Saturdays, their body is likely trying to make up for sleep debt that accumulated over the week.

The problem with this behavior is that it throws off your teenager’s internal clock. By staying up late on the weekends, it’s harder for them to fall asleep at a reasonable hour on Sunday night. They’ll stay up beyond bedtime and then struggle to wake up on Monday morning. The whole cycle repeats itself.

Is it normal for teenagers to stay up late?

In short, yes. When your child moves into puberty, their internal clock shifts by about two hours.3 This means they won’t be sleepy until about two hours later. If they used to go to bed quickly at 8:00 p.m., they likely won’t feel ready for bed until a couple of hours later during puberty.

Getting your teenager on a regular schedule is the most effective way to help them fall asleep at a reasonable hour.

What can teenagers do if they struggle to fall asleep?

Getting your teenager on a regular schedule is the most effective way to help them fall asleep at a reasonable hour. Setting up your teen’s room for relaxation is also important. Make sure that there are no bright lights filtering in from outside, ban smartphones before bed, and consider a white noise machine to help lull them to sleep.

The use of electronic devices is probably the number one culprit, so limit your teen’s time on social media, YouTube, etc., in the hours before bed.

Jill Zwarensteyn

Jill Zwarensteyn


About Author

Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Combination Sleeper

Education & Credentials

  • Certified Sleep Science Coach


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  2. “Ask the expert: Why do teenagers need more sleep?”. Michigan State University. 2023. 
  3. “Sleep in Adolescents”. Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Webpage accessed March 15, 2024. 
  4. “Start Time for U.S. Public High Schools”. National Center for Educational Statistics. 2020. 
  5. “Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified February 13, 2024. 
  6. Saghir, Zahid., et. al. “The Amygdala, Sleep Debt, Sleep Deprivation, and the Emotion of Anger: A Possible Connection?”. Cureus. 2018. 
  7. Mehta, Kosha J. “Effect of sleep and mood on academic performance—at interface of physiology, psychology, and education”. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications. 2022.  
  8. “What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency?”. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Last modified March 24, 2022. 
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  10. Huang, Kevin., Ihm, Joseph. “Sleep and Injury Risk”. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2021. 
  11. “Drowsy Driving Among Young Drivers”. National Transportation Safety Board. 2017. 
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  13. Mayol-García, Yerís. “Children Continue to be More Involved in Some Extracurricular Activities”. United States Census Bureau. 2022. 
  14. “Screen Time and Children”. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2020.  
  15. “The Social Dilemma: Social Media and Your Mental Health”. Mass General Brigham McLean Hospital. 2024. 
  16. “Blue light has a dark side”. Harvard Health Publishing. 2020. 
  17. “Sleep and mental health.” Havard Health Publishing. 2021.
  18. Abrams, Zara. “Kids’ mental health is in crisis. Here’s what psychologists are doing to help”. American Psychological Association. 2023. 
  19. “Exercising for Better Sleep”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed March 31, 2024.
  20. Mograss, Melodee., et. al. “The effects of napping on night-time sleep in healthy young adults”. Journal of Sleep Research. 2022. 
  21. Canty, Gregory. “Sleep for health and sports performance”. Children’s Mercy Kansas City. 2022.