Ep. 160: The Sleep-Deprived Teen with Lisa Lewis

Nov 21, 2023 | 0 comments

Today’s topic is no stranger to the Diverse Thinking Different Learning Podcast. We’re talking about sleep, but this time, we’re discussing the impact of sleep (and lack thereof) on teens.

Lisa Lewis explains it all beautifully in her book The Sleep-Deprived Teen: Why Our Teenagers Are So Tired, and How Parents and Schools Can Help Them Thrive. And in our conversation today, she shares some interesting facts about the adolescent brain, how sleep deprivation impedes brain development, and what we can do about it as parents and as a society.


Show Notes:

[2:19] – In the early years of our child’s life, we think about naps and sleep often. But it is something that becomes overlooked as they get older.

[3:24] – Adolescence is a time of major brain development.

[5:02] – Sleep, specifically, is incredibly important for this process.

[6:18] – The number of hours needed for a teen is more than for adults. Teens should be getting 8-10 hours at least of sleep. Young teens should be getting 11 hours.

[8:02] – Naturally, teens will start going to bed later. This is a normal rhythm change.

[9:25] – There are a number of factors behind why teens are not getting enough sleep.

[11:08] – The biggest policy change that could greatly benefit adolescents is a later school start time for middle and high school students.

[13:04] – Tech use late at night is a big factor as well as overscheduling.

[15:10] – Lisa explains some of the processes that are impacted by sleep deprivation, specifically academically.

[16:23] – Mood, irritability, and emotional regulation are greatly impacted by sleep. This is true for adults as well.

[17:50] – Sleep deprivation also has a link to suicidality, mental health issues, and impulsivity.

[19:20] – Many teens are involved in athletics and sleep deprivation increases risk for injury. Sleep deprivation is a concern for teens learning to drive as well.

[20:54] – What are some of the things we can do as parents and as a community?

[23:01] – There are many things to consider including homework time and extracurricular activities.

[25:11] – Technology is here to stay. But how is it impacting sleep?

[26:58] – There are some best practices for parents and teens regarding tech use at night.

[29:27] – Making changes in the home needs to be collaborative.

[31:26] – Part of technology rules and wind-down routines is being a good role model.


About Our Guest:

Lisa L. Lewis is the author of The Sleep-Deprived Teen: Why Our Teenagers Are So Tired, and How Parents and Schools Can Help Them Thrive (described as “a call to action” by Arianna Huffington and “an urgent and timely read” by Daniel H. Pink). Her book, which was reviewed by The New York Times, is an outgrowth of her previous work on the topic, including her role in helping get California’s landmark law on healthy school start times passed.

Lewis has written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among others, and has appeared on the TODAY show, WBUR “On Point,” BBC World Radio, and local radio and TV in Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere. She has a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, an MFA from Mills College, and a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. The parent of a teen and a recent teen, Lewis lives in California with her family.


Connect with Lisa:

Links and Related Resources:

Connect with Us:


The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.