Teens, texting and sleep: What parents need to know

Teens, texting and sleep: What parents need to knowText messaging is a quick and easy way for teens to communicate with each other. A recent report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project showed that teens are sending an average of 60 text messages per day, and that number increases for adolescent girls.

Many text messages are sent after 9 p.m. Teens keep their phones on their pillows or next to their beds and receive or send texts all through the night. Teens we see in our pediatric Sleep Clinic often tell us they feel peer pressure to be immediately available to their friends.

The habit of texting at night can have significant consequences

Text messages can disrupt a teen’s sleep. Remember that the average teen should be getting 9 hours of sleep each night. If a teen doesn’t get enough sleep, he or she may have difficulty waking up in the morning and getting to school on time. Teens who don’t get enough sleep also find it hard to stay alert and their grades suffer.

A good rule of thumb is that all electronic devices, including cellphones, should be turned off an hour before bedtime. Some calling plans restrict hours of use. Sometimes parents need to help by storing the phone for their teen overnight. But, it’s probably best to encourage your teen to let their friends know that their sleep is important and they will look forward to meeting up with them again in the morning.

Lynn D'Andrea, MD- Lynn D’Andrea, MD, medical director, Sleep Center, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

The Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the only sleep center in the state dedicated solely to the care of children and teens. The center has two locations (Milwaukee and New Berlin) both accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and staffed by four board-certified pediatric sleep specialists.

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