How much sleep do teens need before safely getting behind the wheel?

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Adults may notice the symptoms of being overly tired, but what about teenagers, especially when they are behind the wheel?

It’s a scientific fact teenagers need more sleep than adults.

“Teenagers need somewhere between 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep as opposed to adults, who typically need somewhere between 7 and 8,” explained Dr. Roxanne Valentino of Neurology, Sleep Medicine.

Nashville Christian’s head football coach, Jeff Brothers, said it best. We live in a world with a 24-hour cycle of news and sports. Each day, Brothers monitors his players and knows the importance of rest.

“The important thing is, is you build it into their day. You tell them the importance of it and you structure it just like it’s part of their workout. Rest is important. Their body has to recharge,” Coach Brothers said.

According to statistics, teen drivers who sleep less than 8 hours are one-third more likely to crash. Young men under the age of 25 have the highest risk of drowsy driving.

(Photo: WKRN)

“Drowsy driving for teens is actually not uncommon in a big public safety issue. In fact, there are studies in adults showing that with enough sleep deprivation the coordination effects are similar to having elevated blood alcohol levels, so sleep deprivation and driving are not a good mix,” said Dr. Valentino.

Dr. Valentino said there are warning signs of tiredness every parent should look for.

“Yawning, irritably, trouble concentrating, or even some teens with an inadequate sleep can have trouble getting along with family members,” she explained.

Before every game, Coach Brothers said he gives his players the same speech – go home and get some rest.

“Play the game on your ceiling before you lay down and shut your eyes and get some sleep,” he said.

And for a good night of shut eye, health officials say it’s about shutting everything else off.

“My best piece of advice for getting a good night of sleep in the teenage years is to remove the electronic devices from the room. TVs should not be in a bedroom ideally. Cellphones, in my opinion, don’t have a place overnight in the bedroom for a teenager, so an alarm clock should be about it and we want to get those electronic devices out,” Dr. Valentino said.

Dr. Valentino also said awareness and talking to kids about drowsy driving is the first step in safety. She said if you are feeling tired or nodding off behind the wheel, you should pull over and call a ride.

Click here to read more from News 2’s Family Safety Day.