Experts believe 70 percent of Australian teenagers are sleep deprived. If your teen is among the 70 percent, you’re probably already aware that sleep deprivation can make them grumpy and unpleasant to be around. However, that grumpiness is just the tip of the iceberg. There are 3 other surprisingly awful consequences of teen’s sleep deprivation that your family should be aware of.

1. Inadequate sleep can trigger weight gain

When a teen starts to gain weight, most people will blame it on overeating or lack of exercise. There’s generally a lot less awareness of another one of the possible causes of weight gain: lack of adequate sleep. Researchers have confirmed a pronounced association between insufficient sleep and higher body mass index in teenagers and young children.

Scientists have conducted quite a bit of research surrounding the issues of obesity and lack of sleep. In one study, they found that well-rested teens tended to make healthier food choices than sleep deprived teens do. The study results clearly indicated that sleep deprived teens were more likely to consume food that’s bad for them, while also robbing themselves of nutritious food that’s beneficial to them.

Researchers have yet to determine whether this relationship between food and poor sleep is a causal one, but other related research gives us additional insights into what seems to be happening. Another study demonstrates that insufficient sleep can interfere with a person’s appetite regulation in undesired ways.

Appetite is largely controlled by the hormones ghrelin and leptin. Lack of sleep can trigger the release of too much ghrelin, which in turn causes feelings of hunger. It can also restrict the amounts of leptin released in the body. Leptin is the hormone which creates a full feeling after eating. So lack of sleep could be interfering with your teen’s hormones in a way that makes him feel hungrier and less full, even if he’s actually consuming sufficient quantities of food.

2. Insufficient sleep may lead to harmful behaviours

Lack of sleep is evidently influencing the undesirable behaviours that some teens exhibit. In a couple of revealing  studies, researchers found that teens who sleep less than 6 hours per night are significantly more likely to drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, smoke marijuana, drive after consuming alcohol, carry a weapon, get in a fight, attempt suicide or engage in risky sexual behaviours than teens who sleep at least 8 hours per night.

3. Lack of sleep is correlated with increased instances of illness

The Journal of Sleep Research has reported that well rested adolescents are less likely to experience illnesses including colds, flu, and gastroenteritis than their sleep-deprived counterparts.

Their analysis also indicated that sleep timing is likely to play a role in wellness or sickness outcomes. For example, an irregular sleep pattern can be created if your teen gets inadequate sleep on weeknights and then attempts to catch up on the weekends; this sort of irregular sleep pattern is more likely to result in illness than a totally regular sleep pattern would. The researchers also determined that scheduling social time or work time late in the evening can contribute to greater instances of illness for teens. The logical conclusion is that the late evening hours are better used for sleeping than for work or social activities.

Helping teens to get the sleep they require

Teens generally need between 8-10 hours of sleep every night to be healthy and avoid the above-mentioned problems caused by lack of sleep. There are several things you can do to increase the likelihood your teen will actually get this much sleep:

Provide a comfortable bed, mattress and dedding

Uncomfortable beds cause and contribute to insomnia problems. In particular, your teen’s mattress will play an important role in either enhancing or detracting from the quality and duration of his sleep. Make sure it’s one that fits him well and is comfortable for him. The bed base that the mattress rests on is also important, because an inadequate bed base can cause even the best mattress to become less supportive.

Also ensure that your teen hasn’t outgrown his childhood bed. He needs enough space to move freely while sleeping. If your teen needs a new bed, an Ecosa mattress and bed base are high-quality choices that could empower better sleep for the duration of his teenage years and into adulthood.

Limit caffeine consumption

Not surprisingly, researchers have discovered a correlation between sleep-deprived teens and caffeine consumption. You can help your teen get enough sleep by discouraging caffeine consumption after noon.

Encourage exercise

It intuitively makes sense to think that exercise can help to tire your teen out enough that he’ll feel sleepy. Research actually confirms this. So be sure to empower your teen to play sports, take part in athletic events or get sufficient exercise in whatever other ways appeal to him.

Now you’re updated on some of the horrible consequences of sleep deprivation in teenagers – and better empowered to help your teen prevent this undesirable condition.