Recent studies by Stanford University have shown that teens need much more sleep than adults, with 8.5 to 9 hours a night being optimal. It has also been discovered that teens have difficult in falling asleep early, Their biological clock still developing, and their bodies tend to produce melatonin later in the evening. Melatonin is the sleep inducing hormone we all need to begin to feel sleepy.
Add this late bed time to the need to get up early for school and you have a cranky, moody teenager, who wakes with difficulty. Lack of sleep can make your teen perform poorly at school, and feel depressed.
There are tried and tested ways to help your teens get the sleep they need
- Be consistent in setting a reasonable bedtime and wake time.
- Build in a bedtime routine which includes a warm bath or quiet activity.
- Make sure homework is finished well before bedtime.
- Make sure sport or exercise is finished at least 2 hours before bedtime.
This is all good parenting, and I am sure you tend to make sure your teens are following your guidelines on this already. However, I read a couple of tweets recently from teenagerposts@teenager_posts that really got me thinking. The first one was;
“It’s so hard to sleep when you have a million things running through your mind late at night. #teenagerposts “
Not just a teenage problem. We’ve all been there, toss and turning with the worries of the day popping one after the other into your head. But for teenagers these worries can be added to by late night texts from friends about homework, boy/girlfriend trouble, disagreements in their group, or just chat..
The second one was more worrying, and also something that I have heard about when talking with teenagers.
“Texting someone and falling asleep while waiting for the reply. #teenagerposts “
Texting now is such a normal method of communication that even a full cycle of argument build up and make up can be carried out entirely by text. One example I know of was a girl who had fallen out with a friend, and the texts carrying on the discussion went on until 3.00a.m.
You can see where I’m going with this, of course. Allowing your teen to keep the mobile phone in the bedroom just sabotages all your good parenting resolutions. But before you confiscate it and move the charging apparatus downstairs into the living room where you can see it maybe it’s a good idea to sit down and talk to your teen about this article.
Explain why they need enough sleep, and why you understand how difficult it is for them to fall asleep early. Ask them what they think about the bedtimes routine suggested in the article, and whether keeping the mobile phone in the bedroom is a good idea. You may be pleasantly surprised by their response.
If you want help communicating with your teenager on this or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org