Best Mattress for Teenagers

There’s no question that teenagers are living life at full speed, and tend to sleep a lot. Though many teenagers are sleep deprived, a growing number of parents are now realizing that kids in the 12-18 age group need 8-10 hours of solid, restorative sleep. The quality of their sleep depends largely on the caliber of their mattress. Parents should consider investing in a quality mattress for their growing tweens and teens as early as 10-11 years of age.

Why do teens need so much more sleep than a younger child or an adult? There’s a lot going in during these formative years. The pressure of rapid body development and growth, studying and learning, hormonal issues, gaining autonomy and exploring independence, driving, social and peer pressure, and stress all add up and can sap energy during the day, demanding more productive and deep REM stage sleep. 

That’s why providing the perfect nest for your teen can be instrumental in their development. And, incredibly, teenagers can be very particular about the kind of mattress they sleep on, even more so than adults. We’ve created a curated selection of the best mattresses on the web, including one brand that we advise parents to consider, called The Puffy Mattress. It’s a great options, free of many chemicals and toxins found in many mattresses, and many of our readers write us back to share their experiences with their Puffy Mattress. There are other options, too, in our Best Of The Best mattress selections.

Experts have pretty solid and well researched explanations as to why teenagers need quality sleep, along with having a comfortable and supportive mattress and implementing good sleep hygiene habits.

Janet K. Kennedy, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and founder of “NYC Sleep Doctor”, wrote a book called The Good Sleeper: The Essential Guide to Sleep for Your Baby (and You). She’s considered an expert on sleep and children, including teenagers.

Why is sleep so essential for teens?
Sleep is an essential bodily function for all humans. But for teenagers especially, it’s the body’s time to grown new cells, repair damage, regulate hormones, process and store away memory, process and lay in learning, and replenish energy reserves so they can wake up and do it all over again the next day.

What the recommended amount of sleep for teenagers?
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that teens get 8-10 hours of sleep nightly. Unfortunately,  a typical teen gets nowhere near this amount of sleep.

Are there certain hours that are optimal for a teen’s bedtime and wake time?
Teenagers’ body clocks are typically advanced a few hours ahead of children and adults. This is why some teens have trouble falling asleep before 11, or even midnight, which makes it hard to get enough sleep before having to rise to get to school on time. Typically, most teens in the US are up at 6AM to get to school at 7-7:30.

How does lack of sleep add to a teen’s stress level?
Lack of sleep causes a surge of adrenaline and cortisol, causing us to feel tense, edgy and stressed out. That physical stress on top of the psychological stress of homework, social pressures, hectic extracurricular activity schedules, pressure to perform, and preparation for even more education along with unknown looming career choices to consider after graduation from high school- can feel overwhelming. And stress hormones make it harder to fall asleep, creating a sleep deficit night to night that is hard to break out of.

Are there other consequences for teens for not getting enough sleep?
Failure to get enough sleep is highly destructive to teens, and affects every aspect of their lives:

Poor memory and concentration leads to poor retention and performance at school.

  • Response time is impaired and car accidents are more likely.

  • Hormones triggering poor food choices and metabolic changes cause weight gain.

  • Irritability contributes to family and/or social conflict and can lead to more serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

  • Immune function is lowered and risk of colds or flu is increased.

  • Acne gets worse.

How can parents help create a wholesome environment for their teens to get a good night’s rest?
Parents can help their teens develop good sleep habits by implementing a few common sense measures:

  • Screens should be turned OFF and preferably removed from the  bedroom at least an hour before bed. This is important because screens keep kids hard wired  in to the day’s work and social activity which fails to allow the brain to power down. Getting unplugged is essential for sleep induction and then getting good REM sleep. Phones, tablets and computers also emit toxic blue light that reduces the brain’s release of melatonin by tricking it into thinking it is still daytime, delaying the body’s sleep signal. This is especially important for teenagers since their melatonin release is already skewed to later hours.  

  • Limit caffeine and eliminate hyper-caffeinated drinks designed to keep you awake, especially after 7PM or so, It takes hours to metabolize caffeine and its residues. Even if someone is able to fall asleep after drinking caffeinated beverages, the stimulant effect interferes with rapid eye movement (REM) deep sleep and makes sleep less productive.

  • No napping in the evening. Naps after 2PM or so, side rail the body’s sleep clock, making it harder to get a continuous run of nighttime sleep that is so important.

  • Don’t oversleep on weekends. Sleeping much later than normal and taking long naps on weekends totally messes up circadian rhythm and makes it harder to get the sleep you need. The body works best when it has a consistent pattern of bedtime and awake time. A relentless schedule of weekday sleep deprivation and weekend oversleeping keeps the body in a perpetual state of fatigue and stress. Ideally, it is healthier to get up around the same time each day, even on weekends. It’s usually fine to sleep an hour later on weekends, but more than that can lead to insomnia on Sunday night, setting up the cycle of sleep deprivation yet again,  for another week.

Are there certain routines or tips that are helpful for good sleep?
Good sleep hygiene and consistent bedtimes help signal the body to slow down, release melatonin, and begin to get drowsy. Start by unplugging from technology one hour before bed. I recommend reading for pleasure before bed because it distracts the mind away from daily stresses and allows the body to take over with fatigue. Use an e-reader with natural or night time warm light, and if your teen is a reader, encourage reading from a physical copy of a book or magazine.
The sleep environment is also important. The room should be dark and maintained at a consistent 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t allow teens to do homework in bed, or even in a bedroom if another private study area is available. It’s better to maintain the bed and bedroom as a peaceful place which is a sanctuary from the stresses of the day.

Any recommendations for when your teen just can’t fall asleep?
If your teen can’t sleep, it’s best to get out of bed and do something else for a while. The body releases adrenaline when stressed and that keeps you awake. You will get to sleep faster if you get up and distract yourself until fatigue takes over. Reading is a great way to distract the mind from the stress of insomnia. Coloring and drawing are also helpful. If you get very anxious, leave the bedroom and watch TV for a while until you feel more relaxed. Then read until you can’t stay awake. Trying to sleep when you’re stressed and anxious just makes matters worse. Distract yourself and let your body take over when it’s ready.

Some teens like to stay up late to study — because it’s quiet and there aren’t as many distractions. What are your thoughts on this?
Late night studying is fine as long as it doesn’t lead to sleep deprivation and the teen maintains good sleep habits. Here’s why that’s hard:

  • Schools tend to start early and late night studying means less sleep — and sleep is an essential part of learning.

  • If late night studying is a result of procrastination, it’s more likely to interfere with sleep because stress levels are high.

  • Studying in bed leads to unintentional dozing which fragments sleep.

  • Late night studying often leads to oversleeping either the next morning or on weekends. That stresses the body and creates more sleep problems.

How do stimulants and prescription drugs impact sleep habits?
Stimulant abuse wreaks havoc on sleep. Staying awake artificially leads to a crash at odd times. That disturbs and distorts the body clock, creating a kind of jetlag that can take days or more to work through. As mentioned earlier, stimulants also affect sleep quality even when they wear off enough to allow sleep.

What’s the best way to tackle sleep the day after a teen pulls an all-nighter? Nap? Early bedtime? How does that work — do they need to make up the missed hours of sleep?
The best way to handle this is not to pull an all-nighter at all. Sleep is necessary to transfer learned information into memory. Test performance is much better when studying is followed by sleep. And even if a person can cram all night and regurgitate the information successfully on a test the next day, the information will essentially disappear. It won’t be stored and it won’t be available to the person in the future.

But let’s say that a teen defies all common sense and stays up all night. That sleep is essentially lost. The body will recoup some of the lost sleep over subsequent nights, but it won’t recover all of it. And making up for lost sleep during the day can throw off the whole schedule, causing insomnia at night. It’s important to stay up until a normal bedtime, no more than one hour early. It’s best to get the body back into a normal schedule as soon as possible.

Summary- How To Provide The Healthiest Sleep Environment And Sleep Hygiene Habits For your Teenager

  • Screens should be off and preferably out of the bedroom at least one hour before bed.

  • Make sure your teenager has a mattress designed to relax, provide proper spine alignment, and deliver the best comfort and support available to create deep, restorative sleep. Here’s our list of Trusted Dealers.

  • Help your teen limit caffeine.

  • Avoid napping in the evening, and don’t oversleep on weekends.

  • Be sure they aren’t doing homework in bed, so that their bed is truly a place for rest and no stress, and so that they don’t unintentionally doze while studying, which interrupts a healthy sleep pattern.

  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of abusing stimulants to cram or stay awake.

  • If you are feeling overwhelmed or have a question about your child’s drug or alcohol use, call our toll-free Helpline where you can speak with a trained and caring, master’s-level support specialist at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373).