Academic Consequences of Teen Sleep Deprivation article, wikimedia photo

It’s a given that when you are a teen, you love to stay up late and talk on the cell.

What effect is that having on your academic performance?

Let’s listen in.


When it comes to choosing what they must do immediately and what can be postponed, teenagers will sacrifice their sleep in a heartbeat. It’s as if they think Sleep is optional. Some seem to think sleep can be rotated to accommodate more important activities – like texting their BFF’s (Best Friends Forever) until midnight. The favorite line of a teenager is “I’ll catch up on sleep this weekend!” article, pexels stock photo photo credit article, pexels stock photo photo credit

There is no substitute for getting adequate sleep, particularly if you are a teenager with life goals that are tied to academic achievement. Sadly, many teenagers are not aware of this. If a mid-term is coming up, most teens turn their study time into a marathon and kick everything else to the curb, including sleep. This strategy is the quickest way to get a lower or failing grade instead of the A they want.

Usually before an exam, well-informed teachers will advise their students to “Get a good night’s sleep!” But most teenagers attach little significance to those words. Some hear it in the same way they hear “Have a nice day!” Still, knowledgeable teachers subscribe to the notion that a good night’s sleep improves memory. This has always been true, but today research that indicates learning takes place while we’re asleep.

How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Teenagers? article, pexels stock photo photo credit article, pexels stock photo photo credit

If we think of sleep as “Sustenance,” we could accurately describe sleep as “food for the brain.” Along with Air, water and food, the body needs sleep to sustain itself. While teenagers are asleep, certain body functions and brain activity take place automatically. Certain vital brain activities occur only when the body is asleep.

Most students are not aware of this, but sleep enhances the learning process. While teens are getting their 40-winks, their brain remains active. The brain integrates new knowledge and forms new associations while the body sleeps. In this way, sleep supports the learning process. Putting off sleep can be critically harmful to the body, the brain and the learning process.[adToAppearHere]

The Negative Side of Teen Sleeplessness

Teenagers are fully aware that they need more sleep than they generally get. One clear indication is they have difficulty getting out of bed every morning. Why? They want and need more sleep. Despite this awareness, however, teens don’t fully understand the importance of adequate sleep. They don’t know the negative consequences of NOT getting enough ZZ’s at night or how trading sleep for other activities is harmful to both the body and brain. Note the following consequences of sleep tradeoffs:

• Impaired attention, alertness and concentration
• Reduced reasoning and problem-solving ability
• Minimized ability to remember what is learned
• Diminished learning ability – can’t listen well or focus
• Reduced academic achievement

Three Important Academic Benefits of Adequate Sleep

The importance of sleep to the ability to think and learn cannot be over-stated. Lack of sleep makes it virtually impossible to learn efficiently. Here are three critical academic benefits of teenagers getting the sleep they need:

• Better recall of facts they learned before and after sleeping well

• Advances long-term knowledge-based memory benefits

• Sleep enhances a student’s academic potential and achievement


Teenagers are notorious for burning the candle at both ends and down the middle. Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on student achievement and academic excellence. Adequate sleep is critically important to the learning process and should not be sacrificed for anything, including study time. The academic success of teen-students depends on parents making sure they get the sleep they need.

Sheila LyonHall is the Content Developer and Curator at Parenting Your Teen for Life. The article you just read is one of a 7-part Article Series. To get more information on issues important to parents of teenagers, visit my website and join the E-mail List at: Complete the signup form and I’ll send you the link to download a free copy of “The Parenting Teens Oath.” It is designed to help parents restore the “Connection” they had with their teens when they were young children. Parents who re-Connect with their teens are able to maintain ongoing “Influence” in their lives. I look forward to helping you rediscover your amazing teenager and strengthen that bond.[adToAppearHere]

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