Teens and Sleep

“I can’t go to bed now. I have too much to do.” may be a familiar phrase to teenage parents.   The language is somewhat true. From the moment teens willingly crawl out of bed, their days are jam-packed with socializing and processing detailed information, remembering facts and listening, and, then, engaging in organizations, clubs, the creative arts, or athletics, until evening homework begins. Yes, it’s quite the day, without factoring in the variety of emotions and feelings experienced. By the time the late hour tolls, teens need time to wind down from their mental processes and ongoing schedule. It is easy to understand why research concludes teens do not get the sleep they need on a daily basis. Also, it’s not easy to surrender to the needs of the body, especially going to bed.

Factors Preventing Sleep

Since teens are at a vital stage of growth and development, they require exactly nine-and-a-quarter hours to feel energized and alert. Many barriers prevent teens from getting the sleep their bodies demand.

  • Growth and Hormonal Changes: Puberty changes an adolescent’s internal clock, called circadian rhythms, by two hours. This biological shift causes the teen, who once fell asleep at 9:00 pm, now not to be able to sleep until 11:00 pm. This shift in time is the reason why teens have difficulty rising in the morning, and feel especially tired in the middle of the afternoon. (Consider the implications, if your teen is driving between 3:00 and 5:00 pm.)
  • Competing for Time: School and extracurricular activities, family and friends, and time for self are constantly at a tug-of-war. Decisions need to be made and responsibilities fulfilled. It takes time to reflect, for teens to willingly make changes to their schedule, and find a system that works. Not all teens are successful at maintaining a balanced schedule. Feeling exhausted can affect a teen’s view of themselves and the demands of life. As a result, stress and anxiety may take over and result in sickness or develop into a condition.

A study proved there is a correlation between a pre-teen’s sleep habits and his or her pattern of sleep as an adult. As we help our teens understand the value of a good night’s sleep, they will start feeling their best as a student, friend, daughter or son, athlete, musician, or artist.

Changing Sleep Habits:

Teens quickly become labeled as moody and easily frustrated. Helping a teen understand why he or she needs to find a balance between the day’s activities and sleep is vital. Here are six ways to help your teen get a good night’s rest.

  1. Create a Sleep Schedule: A schedule is essential for a teen to feel balanced. It begins with a promise to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This also includes the weekend. Sleeping in till noon on Saturday morning will make it more difficult for your teen to return to a school schedule.
  2. Naps: One of the best ways for your teen to feel revitalized is to encourage him or her to take an afternoon nap, 20 minutes maximum. Perhaps the best time for napping is soon after your teen arrives home from school.
  3. Avoid Caffeine: Drinking caffeine in the afternoon can alter the ability to fall asleep. Rather than artificial boosts of energy, teens should be engaged in some form of exercise.
  4. Choose a Winding-down Routine: Stimulating activities such as watching television, playing video games, or interacting on social media sites will not encourage sleep. Teens should think about what can help them wind down. Perhaps the answer is reading or a warm shower.
  5. Rise and Shine: A natural means of waking is witnessing the sunlight. Teens should not have thick curtains in their bedrooms, especially in the winter months.

Sleeping pills or other medications are not the answer. By creating a schedule to balance the demands of school with the need for social interaction, teens can remain in control. A good night’s sleep can help teens achieve their greatest ambition and goals. “Turning in” on time could be the one factor which will help to make every day great!