The recommended amount of sleep a young person needs varies depending on their age. Typically, primary school children need about 9-10 hours of sleep, those in early high school require 9-10 hours and those in later high school need 8-9 hours (Paruth et al., 2016). However, many young people are not meeting these sleep requirements; a recent report found that over half of 16-17 year olds in Australia are not meeting minimum sleep guidelines (AIFS, 2023).
This is important as sleep promotes physical and emotional wellbeing, and plays a particularly important role in sustained attention, learning, and academic performance (Worley, 2018).
During the teen years sleep structure undergoes significant changes (Colrain & Baker, 2011), with sleep disruptions further exacerbated by psychosocial factors such as increased homework demands, extracurricular activities, and technology use. Evening technology use can impact on sleep in two ways: the bright light emitted from screens can delay sleep onset by suppressing the release of melatonin, and screen content (e.g., social media) can increase physiologic arousal (Fry, 2021).
As parents, you can help to encourage good sleep behaviours in your son by:
- Talking to him about the importance of sleep
- Prioritise sleep over late-night studying
- Help your son to have at least 30 minutes before bed to unwind without technology.
Further sleep tips from Dr Philip Tam (child psychiatrist) are available via Knox Grammar School’s Research Institute for Children and Adolescents.
At least 30 minutes without technology before bed to unwind.
- The Centre for Clinical Interventions has evidence-based resources to promote optimal sleep: https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/~/media/CCI/Mental-Health-Professionals/Sleep/Sleep---Information-Sheets/Sleep-Information-Sheet---04---Sleep-Hygiene.pdf
- School TV has a suite of resources dedicated to sleep, with topics including:
- How much sleep do kids need?
- How can kids get back on the path to good sleep?
- What environmental changes can promote better sleep?
- Top tips for parents
- School TV resources are available here: https://knox.nsw.schooltv.me/newsletter/sleep