Lack of sleep impairs teen social life

Mar 28, 2011, 6:13 PM | Updated: Mar 30, 2011, 12:00 pm

Generations of parents have told their kids to “go to bed,” often with lectures about how a lack of sleep will reduce their brain development, attention span in school and reaction time if they’re into sports.

If that doesn’t get a student’s attention, this might – a lack of sleep also impairs a teen’s social life.

“Being able to read the emotions in another person’s face is a very important skill, right? Is the person you’re talking to happy? Are they angry? What’s going on with them? That skill is impaired when a person is sleep deprived,” says Catherine Darley, a naturopathic physician in Seattle who recently spoke to a local PTA group about sleep issues. Along with her training, she’s studied the issue as a technologist at Virginia Mason Medical Center Sleep Disorders Center.

A person’s social well-being is also influenced by the way people see you. People who look sleepy and are yawning are not viewed as “interesting” or “popular” she says. A study to back that up compared photographs of people who were alert and rested with those who were sleep deprived. Individuals in the “sleepy” photos were rated as being less healthy and less attractive.

TeenSleep1Darley says a lack of sleep also impacts teens’ moral judgments.

“When people are sleep deprived, their choices are more self-centered, frankly,” she says.

Sleep loss amplifies the negative emotions in a teen’s life and reduces the positive emotions. Basically, they’re dull without sufficient sleep.

Scientific research on the social impacts from a sleep deficit is relatively new, with the first studies coming out about six months ago.

Teenagers whose parents have them go to bed at midnight or later were 24 percent more likely to be depressed, than children whose bedtime was set at 10 p.m. or earlier. Children with the midnight or later bedtime had 20 percent more suicidal thoughts than those who went to bed earlier.

So, how much sleep does your child need? Toddlers need about 13 hours of sleep. Preschoolers can get by on 12 hours. Children between the ages of six and 12 should get between 10 and 11 hours each night. Teens need 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep at night. Adults should be asleep for 8 or 9 hours each night.

Sleep needs vary from one child to the next. One way to know how much sleep your child naturally needs is to observe their sleep habits on weekends or during a vacation.

“How much sleep are they getting at the end of a five- to eight-day vacation? That’s probably how much sleep they need to get every night,” says Darley.

The News Chick Blog

The wife of Seattle attorney Danford Grant moved his car away from one of the alleged crime scenes ...
No Author

Equal justice for Seattle lawyer accused of several rapes?

Has accused serial rapist Danford Grant gotten preferential treatment because both he and his wife are Seattle attorneys?
10 years ago
The Seattle-based I Can Has Cheezburger network now includes 60 humor sites. Many of their 90 emplo...
No Author

Seattle humor network, built with funny cat pictures, becomes a reality TV show

A small Internet empire with a funny name has billions of page views on its network of 60 humor websites based in Seattle. Now, I Can Has Cheezburger has a reality TV show too.
10 years ago
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent a combined $30.33 every second this election cycle. Wa...
No Author

Democracy and dollar signs – 2012 campaign spending

Washington initiative campaigns spent $34 million trying to win your vote, while President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent a combined $30.33 every second this election cycle.
10 years ago
Chef Tom Douglas says Seattle’s restaurants are ‘a little homemade’ compared with...
No Author

Chef Tom Douglas says ‘Seattle is a funny restaurant town’

Chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas, with 13 Seattle restaurants and more on the way, says Seattle is a "funny restaurant town."
10 years ago
Investigation continues into why a commander of the Bremerton-based Stennis carrier group was remov...
No Author

New ‘crazy’ conspiracy theory on Stennis Rear Admiral

The Pentagon shoots down theories about why the commander of the USS Stennis Carrier Group was removed from duty and sent back to the homeport in Bremerton.
10 years ago
Seattle photographer Paul Souders captures an adult polar bear up close in Hudson Bay in Churchill,...
No Author

Seattle photographer comes face to face with a polar bear

A wildlife photographer, who lives in Ballard, has taken thousands of stunning shots. None put him on "a razor's edge" more than a series of photos swimming with a polar bear.
10 years ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Lack of sleep impairs teen social life