You know the routine. You poke and prod until your teenager finally crawls out of bed. They move around like a zombie getting ready for school. You might be able to get them to eat some breakfast if you’re lucky before they head out the door. And then, when they get home, they can go straight back to bed and sleep for a few more hours before dinner. What happened to the little whirlwind of a boy that you could hardly get to sit still? Why does it seem like your teenager is always tired?
Growing is exhausting work.
Teenagers go through several growth spurts from age 13 to age 18. When the body is preparing to make these leaps, the rest of the body’s functions can suffer, and they can feel sluggish and tired. The body is taking all of the excess energy and using it to grow rather than keeping them awake for first-period Algebra. You should encourage your teen to get a good night’s sleep and to eat well during these periods of time to help fight the ever-present feeling of grogginess.
Teenagers don’t get enough sleep.
Doctors recommend that teenagers get between eight and ten hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Almost no teenager is getting enough sleep! For a teenager that has to get up at 6:30 AM for school, they would have to be in bed asleep between 8:30 and 10:30 PM. Even the most strict parents would have a hard time sending their 17-year-old to bed at 8:30 PM! It’s also easy for anyone to mess up their sleeping schedule by staying up too late every night. Many teenagers routinely stay up as late as 2 or 3 AM, getting only a few hours of sleep before they have to get up for school.
School schedules aren’t good for teenagers.
At about the age of 13, your child’s circadian rhythm begins to change. This means that while your preteen might have been able to go to bed by 9 or 10 PM, it is difficult for a teenager to go to sleep before 11 PM. Most teenagers will naturally become tired and have the most restful sleep between midnight and 9 AM. However, school schedules usually demand that teens be up around 6 AM and in a class by 7 AM. This means that the window of time that a teenager is likely to have a good sleep is cut down to a mere six hours! Studies suggest that adjusting a high school’s schedule to start around 9 AM and end around 5 PM would drastically improve the well-being of students and decrease the number of students that are chronically tired.
There’s a lot on their plate.
It might be easy to look at a teenager and think that they have it easy, but there are a lot of demands on a teenager’s time. High school coursework is harder than it has ever been, and students are pressured to perform to higher and higher standards. The average high school student receives 3.5 hours of homework a night despite research suggesting that no more than one hour is what is healthy. This is before things like sports, extracurriculars, and jobs are taken into consideration. On top of this, it is important that they maintain a social life to ensure they develop healthy social skills! Let’s face it: there aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up!
There may be an underlying medical condition.
There are some medical conditions that could be causing excessive tiredness in your teenager. These conditions include anemia (chronic low iron in the blood), depression, malnutrition, hypothyroidism (the thyroid does not produce enough of certain hormones), and infections. Your teen’s doctor can perform screenings to determine if any of these underlying conditions may be contributing to their excessive tiredness.