How stress affects sleep hygiene of your adolescent; Expert shares insights | Health


Adolescence is one of the most wonderful years of life however it is also one of the most stressful periods of life. This phase is marked by physical and emotional growth and development. With multiple changes taking place on the physical front in terms of growth and development teenagers face a difficult time coping with stress. While no one can avoid stressful situations, ineffective coping mechanisms lead to unhealthy lifestyles and behaviours, especially in our future generations. Adolescence is a time of turmoil and worry, and any excessive stress would have a detrimental effect on their sleep, which would then damage their health and academic performance. (Also read: Ways to improve your teen’s mental wellness )

Talking to HT Lifestyle, Dr. Paula Goel, Consultant Pediatrician, Adolescent Physician and the Founder of Fayth Clinic, explained stress-related issues among adolescents and how it affects their sleep.

Stress in adolescence can occur due to multiple reasons:

1. Growth and development being the first of them – if growth is early or delayed, it may lead to stress as adolescents may feel awkward with their peers.

2. Overweight, obese and underweight adolescents may experience stress due to body shaming.

3. Negative peer pressure, teasing, and bullying from their peers can all lead to stress.

4. Academic pressures in schools and colleges lead to stress as there is no time for a hobby, playing or spending time with friends.

5. Parental pressure for academic performance and social behaviour or following certain cultural or family norms. parental expectations and the pressure on the adolescent to live up to them also plays a very important role in stress.

6. Social media pressure from Instagram or Facebook such as not getting adequate likes or coverage may lead to stress.

7. Adolescents in competitive sports face the stress of performance

Stress-related sleep issues among adolescents:

Most adolescents spend a long time on gadgets and social media, they sleep late and have to wake up early for school or college The blue light from the gadget suppresses the hormone melatonin which decreases REM sleep and increases blood sugar levels, decreasing insulin sensitivity it also increases hunger hormone which increases appetite leading to obesity.

Stress releases the hormone cortisol which affects metabolism and sleep. Sleep is a necessary human function which allows our brains to recharge and our bodies to rest. When we don’t sleep long or well enough, our bodies don’t get the full benefits of sleep, similar to muscle form and memory connection. Lack of sleep affects concentration and focus leading to poor academic performance. Sleep decreases with increasing stress. Sleep is very crucial even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and moods.

Today’s teenagers have more stress due to unhealthy lifestyles and lack of physical activity which decreases stress and improves sleep leading to better health. Insufficient or inconsistent amounts of sleep in adolescents are known to be associated with short- and long-term effects on health, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes as well as impaired immune function. Yet most adolescents sleep for only 6.5 – 7.5 hours per night, and some even less.

Regularly not getting enough sleep can lead to chronic sleep deprivation, which can have serious effects on a teenager’s life, impacting their mental well-being, and increasing their risk of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.

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