Connecticut Pediatric Doctor, Dr. Patterson, on Teens & Fatigue

February 18, 2016

A common reason for adolescents to visit our office is for complaints of fatigue or “feeling tired all the time”. Here are some things to consider before bringing your child in for medical evaluation:

1. How much sleep is she getting?
Teens typically need 8-10 hours of sleep per night, but I think we’d be hard pressed to find any that are achieving this. I find that many teens feel they are getting adequate sleep because they sleep 5-6 hours per night and then take a 2 hours nap after school. Getting 8 hours of sleep in two separate chunks is NOT the same as getting 8 continuous hours of sleep

2. Is your child overscheduled?
Does he have to get up at 5:15am to get the bus, concentrate in school until 2pm, go to band practice after school until 4:30, grab a quick dinner on the way to hockey at 5:30, only to roll into the house at 8pm at which point he has to start his 2-3 hours of homework? I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be tired trying to sustain a schedule like that.

3. Is your child eating well?
Does she skip breakfast? Does she buy a balanced lunch at school? Is take-out or fast food the norm for dinner between activities? Getting inadequate nutrition (either not eating enough or eating foods with little nutritional value) can leave kids feeling sluggish.

4. If your child depressed?
Is he no longer interested in meeting up with friends, but rather isolates himself to his room whenever he can? Is he seeming sad or angry on a regular basis? Is he sleeping a lot more or a lot less than usual? Is he eating a lot more or a lot less than usual? Are his grades suffering?

If you have concerns about any of these items above, or if you still are unsure why your teen is seeming so tired all the time, please contact Pediatric Medical Associates to schedule an appointment with your clinician.

Other helpful child development resources regarding teen nutrition and sleep can be found at:

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