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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 sufficient sleep is associated with 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 Further, research points to sleep disturbances associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders3 in this age group.

During puberty, adolescents experience a two-hour shift in their biological clock4 that makes them feel sleepy later in the evening, specifically around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. By wanting to stay up later, this also means teens can be inclined to sleep in later to get enough rest.

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.5 – 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, a Youth Risk Behavior Survey6 found that 57.8 percent of middle school students don’t get enough sleep on school nights, and this number increased to 72.7 percent for high school students. 

Importance of Sleep for Adolescents


Lack of proper sleep hurts a teen’s cognitive abilities7. This translates to poor memory, inability to make decisions or exercise good judgment, difficulty paying attention, and poor reaction time.

Compromising cognitive function can mean poor performance in school and sports, possibly leading to bodily harm.

Behavioral, Emotional, and Social

Not getting enough rest affects different parts of the brain, and one of the main portions of the brain that suffers from sleep deprivation is the amygdala8, which controls the fight-or-flight response. When the amygdala is impacted by sleep deprivation, research suggests this could make you more emotionally reactive and distracted.8

Furthermore, sleep-deprived teenagers can experience an increased risk of depression and anxiety9.

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.8, 9 If your teen gets frustrated more easily or seems upset about trivial matters, check to make sure they are getting enough sleep.

Negative Behavior 

Teens experiencing sleep deprivation are more likely to take unnecessary and even dangerous risks like unsafe sex, risky driving, drugs, and alcohol.9 

Trouble Concentrating and Learning

The inability to think clearly is a classic symptom of sleep deprivation10. For teens, cognitive ability is crucial for academic performance, and research shows that sleep-deprived teenagers consistently do worse in school11

Physical Health

Not regularly getting enough sleep can take a toll on your teen’s physical health. For example, sleep deprivation is linked to health issues12 like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. People who don’t get enough sleep are also more likely to get sick and stay sick longer since sleep plays a crucial role in keeping our immune systems functioning properly13.

People who don’t get enough sleep are also more likely to get injured14 – 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.14

Drowsy Driving

If your teen drives, you should monitor their sleeping schedule closely. Young drivers are the most likely to fall asleep at the wheel out of any age group15

Why Teens Aren’t Sleeping Enough


As we discussed, during puberty, an adolescent’s natural circadian rhythm changes by about two hours.4 This is because the hormone melatonin is released later during this time16, 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 around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.4 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 public high schools start around 8:00 a.m.5 

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 sleep17 for most teenagers.

Learn More: School Start Times

Extracurricular Activities and After-School Jobs

Extracurricular activities among teens have been increasing over the years18. 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 day19 looking at screens. However, the blue light from the screens inhibits melatonin production20, which can leave you feeling more alert. Furthermore, researchers found blue light to negatively impact sleep quality and duration21

Mental Health

Sleep and mental health have a cyclical relationship.9 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.9 This is why good sleep is particularly important for today’s teens, who are already struggling more with mental health22 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 improving sleep quality23.
  • 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 night24. 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 – 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 hours25 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 times26. 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.25

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 later.4 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.

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


  1. “Teen Sleep Duration Health Advisory”. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Last modified April 13, 2016. 
  2. “Ask the expert: Why do teenagers need more sleep?”. Michigan State University. 2023. 
  3. Palmer PhD, Cara A. “Tired Teens: Sleep Disturbances and Heightened Vulnerability for Mental Health Difficulties”. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2020.
  4. “Sleep Problems in Teens”. UCLA Health. Webpage accessed May 6, 2024.
  5. “Public high school average start time and percentage distribution of start times, by school characteristics: 2017–18”. National Center for Education Statistics. Webpage accessed May 6, 2024.
  6. “Sleep in Middle and High School Students”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified September 10, 2020.
  7. Kiris, Nurcihan. “Effects of partial sleep deprivation on prefrontal cognitive functions in adolescents”. Sleep and Biological Rhythms. 2022.
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  14. Huang, Kevin., Ihm, Joseph. “Sleep and Injury Risk”. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2021. 
  15. “Drowsy Driving Among Young Drivers”. National Transportation Safety Board. 2017. 
  16. LaBotz MD, Michele. “The Jet Lag of Adolescence”. American Academy of Pediatrics. 2022.
  17. Widome PhD, Rachel., et al. “Association of Delaying School Start Time With Sleep Duration, Timing, and Quality Among Adolescents”. JAMA Network. 2020.
  18. Mayol-García, Yerís. “Children Continue to be More Involved in Some Extracurricular Activities”. United States Census Bureau. 2022. 
  19. “Screen Time and Children”. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2020.  
  20. “Blue light has a dark side”. Harvard Health Publishing. 2020. 
  21. Silvani, Marcia Ines., Werder, Robert., Perret, Claudio. “The influence of blue light on sleep, performance and wellbeing in young adults: A systematic review”. Frontiers in Physiology. 2022.
  22. Abrams, Zara. “Kids’ mental health is in crisis. Here’s what psychologists are doing to help”. American Psychological Association. 2023. 
  23. Cassemiro Rosa, Camila., et al. “Effect of Different Sports Practice on Sleep Quality and Quality of Life in Children and Adolescents: Randomized Clinical Trial”. Sports Medicine Open. 2021.
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