Why Sleep Is Critical For Teenage Health 

Bedroom of a teen mental health treatment program where teens get better sleep.

“Over 75 percent of US high school students do not get the sleep they need. So, why does it matter that teens are sleep-deprived? What’s the big deal about getting enough sleep?” asked Rutgers psychology professor Jessica Leigh Hamilton recently on Psychology Today.

Dr. Hamilton listed three main reasons in the article

  1. Sleep is critical for physical health, especially when teens’ brains are still developing.
  2. Sleep is linked to academic performance, including decision-making, problem-solving, and attention, impacting a teenager’s learning ability.
  3. Lack of sleep is linked to many mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Links between sleep and mental health

University of Washington pediatrics professor Maida Lynn Chen agrees. “A growing body of research is finding strong links between sleep, mental health, and screen time in teens and tweens—the term for pre-adolescent children around the ages of 10 to 12,” wrote Professor Chen last summer on The Conversation. “Amid an unprecedented mental health crisis in which some 42 percent of adolescents in the US are suffering from mental health issues, teens are also getting too little sleep.”

“The importance of good sleep is well known,” confirms Turning Winds’ clinical director Jared Sartell, LCSW. “A healthy diet, exercise, gratitude, service, and sleep—those are the keys to good mental health.”

Sleep for teens requires structure

For that reason, Turning Winds clients enjoy a consistent, daily structure. “They have a wake-up time, they have a bedtime,” Sartell explains. “The wake-up period is kind of a gentle, slow start. They get their hygiene done, they get prepared for the day and then have their day. And they end the day the same way—in a slow process. They have a reflective group, they’re doing hygiene and then they’re going to bed.”

There is a consistent schedule with only slight adjustments at weekends with a clear structure for sleep. “When we identify a student as struggling with sleep, we do what we can to help them get good sleep,” says Sartell. “That could be anything from supplements to melatonin to psychotropic medications in addition to breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. Getting sleep is fundamental at Turning Winds. We understand that no one can work effectively at getting better if they don’t get enough sleep.”

Healthier meals promote better sleep

Structured meal times and a healthy diet are important elements as well. “They get a well balanced meal,” says Sartell. “Occasionally, they get dessert but we’re not throwing sugar or caffeine at them. We’re not against those things but we want them to be the exception of the rule—more of a treat. Frequently enough so they are not deprived of the sweets of the world but also not a major part of their diet.”

Many students come to Turning Winds with terrible eating habits, so the team tries to reset their sleep patterns and their nutritional routine to fall within the accepted boundaries of good mental and physical health.

“For most of our students change happens very quickly and you can see that in their school performance,” says Sartell. “And we believe the important early difference—even before they really buy into the program—is changing that unhealthy sleep pattern.”

Turning Winds is a place of healing

Turning Winds helps young people learn how to correctly perceive and purposefully engage with the world around them. The program’s holistic approach, relational focus, and emphasis on achieving authentic openness make Turning Winds especially effective at facilitating positive outcomes and long-term change.

Turning Winds provides a therapeutic respite from a dysfunctional cultural experience, reconnection with core human values, and the holistic education and therapeutic alliance needed to perceive and practice intentional living.

Contact us online for more information, or call us at 800-845-1380.


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Picture of John Baisden, Jr

John Baisden, Jr

John Baisden Jr is the father of seven inspiring children, and he is married to Kara, the love of his life. Together they have created a family-centered legacy by leading the way with early childhood educational advancement. John loves to write and is an author of a children’s book, An Unlikely Journey and plans to publish additional books. Show More

John is a visionary in his work and applies “outside-the-box” approaches to business practice and people development. He is the Founder of Turning Winds, along with several other organizations. He has extensive experience launching and developing organizations. His skills include strategic planning, promoting meaningful leader-member movement, organizational change, effective communication, project management, financial oversight and analysis, digital marketing and content creation, and implementing innovative ideas through influential leadership. As a leader, John seeks to empower others and brand success through collaborative work. His vision is to lead with courage, grit, truth, justice, humility, and integrity while emphasizing relational influence rather than focusing on the sheens of titles, positions, or things.

Finally, John is passionate about life and promoting equity among those who are often overlooked because of differences that frequently clash with the “norm.” He lives in Southern Idaho and loves the outdoors and the life lessons that can be learned in such an informal environment.

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