Sleep and puberty: how things change

The first thing I want to make clear here is that there is a huge difference between kids and adolescents. 

That’s no different when it comes to how their body deals with sleep. 

When a kid starts going through puberty to become an adolescent, they’re going through all sorts of physical changes at a much faster rate than at any other time in their life. 

Everything from their brain to their body is changing daily.

And when it comes to development in general, human babies are the only mammal born completely helpless. 

That’s why, in a way, you want your kids to climb trees and fall down, touch that hot thing, or get a little scrape from riding their bike. They’re learning how the world around them works. 

As the hormones for puberty begin to ramp up and spread through the body, they’re not just teaching the body to prepare for reproduction.

Yes, that’s a big part of puberty. But it changes more than just the sex organs.

In order to be a successful human parent, according to evolution, it’s best to have a brain that’s more advanced than the human baby you’re about to bring into the world. 

That means these hormones also affect rapid changes in the brain – including the first time this adolescent really thinks about the future, instead of merely short term. 

We’ll get into these developments a bit more later, but first I need you to understand the difference between anabolic and catabolic activities in the body. 

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Anabolic vs. catabolic activity in the body

Let’s get a little defining going on before I explain how these things work.

Catabolic activities are processes in the body that cause breakdown. This is true in nature, too – if something is being broken down into smaller pieces or particles, it’s an anabolic process. 

Anabolic activities are processes that result in the building up of something. In the body, that would mean something like the addition of muscle or brain mass.

Now, when each of these types of processes occur in the body is extremely important to understand.

It’s the reason why I say sleep is the most productive thing you can do for your health. 

The vast majority (I’m talking 95-99%) of anabolic processes in the body happen while you’re sleeping.

So, you might notice that your teen is naturally sleeping more as puberty kicks in because the hormones raging around in there are telling it to build, and build FAST. 

The fact that your kid is sleeping so much will be the reason he grows 6 inches in a year, like I did at 16. 

How puberty affects sleep, growth, and development

Sleep and growth are sort of a chicken-and-egg scenario.

If you sleep more, your body can repair and grow more. But if you’re in a big growth period like puberty, your body urges you to sleep more so that it can get that growth done. 

The kids that get as much sleep as possible during puberty are more likely to get taller, more muscular, and have larger brain capacity than those that do not sleep enough. 

For a teen, “enough” sleep could be as much as 12-14 hours a day.

The summer that I gained 65 pounds and grew 6 inches taller, I was sleeping 14 hours per day. This is extremely common, especially for males. 

So if you notice that your kid starts sleeping in more, napping more, or feeling more tired if they’re not getting to sleep like they want – it’s probably because puberty is starting for them. 

As their parent, I’d urge you to let them sleep as much and as often as possible. 

I realize that school and extracurricular activities probably force the kids to wake up before they’d like, but allowing them to rest as much as they want on the weekends (including sleeping in) can help their growth a ton. 

You might not like that your kid goes to bed late and wakes up late, but like I mentioned in my blog about sleep for teens, their circadian rhythm also shifts during this growth period. 

It’s typical for a teen’s body clock to be a few hours later than the sun’s, so don’t worry about this “bad habit” when they very likely will fall into it for a bit. 

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The teenage brain & body are growing rapidly

The main thing to remember when you see your child begin to go through puberty is this: it’s a period of growth.

Not only is this a major change for the body, the brain is also formulating the prefrontal cortex.  

Before your kid hit puberty, their thought process was very limited to figuring out how the world works and what the immediate consequences are. 

They’re not thinking about the future or long-term, they’re thinking “what happens when I put my finger in this light socket?”

When a child begins transitioning to an adolescent, their thoughts are more long-term. 

This is the first time in a person’s life when they even understand the concept of a long-term future. 

So when I say that allowing your kid to sleep as much as possible, especially during puberty, I’m saying that as my best advice to help set your child up for a better body and a better brain long-term. 

And if your teen is dealing with anxiety or trouble sleeping along with puberty, my new Sleep Remedy Kids supplement can help them improve that. 

It’s non-addictive, safe for kids, and tastes delicious. 

Find out more about it here

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