Teen sleep: Why is your teen so tired?

Teen sleep cycles might seem to come from another world. Understand why teen sleep is a challenge — and what you can do to promote better teen sleep.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Teens are notorious for wanting to stay up late and for not wanting to get up early. If your teen is no exception, find out what's behind this behavior and how you can help him or her get better sleep — starting tonight.

A teen's internal clock

Everyone has an internal clock that influences body temperature, sleep cycles, appetite and hormonal changes. The biological and psychological processes that follow the cycle of this 24-hour internal clock are called circadian rhythms. Puberty changes a teen's internal clock, delaying the time he or she starts feeling sleepy and awakens.

Too little sleep

Most teens need about nine hours of sleep a night — and sometimes more — to maintain optimal daytime alertness. But few teens actually get that much sleep regularly, thanks to factors such as part-time jobs, early-morning classes, homework, extracurricular activities, social demands, and use of computers and other electronic gadgets.

Sleep deprivation might not seem like a big deal, but it can have serious consequences. Tired teens can find it difficult to concentrate and learn, or even stay awake in class. Too little sleep also might contribute to mood swings and behavioral problems. Drowsy driving can lead to serious — even deadly — accidents.

Sep. 20, 2014 See more In-depth