Awake all night and trying to sleep all day! Unfortunately, this is the way a teenage brain is wired for sleep. A biological shift in sleep schedules as children hit puberty moves the internal time clock back approximately 2 hours, making it often difficult for adolescents to fall asleep before 11pm each night. Correspondingly, they struggle to wake early each day. With teenagers needing 8 – 10 hours of sleep each night, it is no wonder many teens are chronically sleep deprived.
Good sleep is essential to teenager’s growth and ability to function appropriately. Insufficient sleep will leave teens moody, frustrated and lacking resilience. Tired teenagers exhibit poor decision making skills, particularly surrounding risky behaviours including drinking, driving and drug taking. Exhausted kids are more inclined to struggle at school, with lack of sleep impacting cognitive and academic abilities. Poor memory, a lowered attention span and reduced creativity all work to prevent teenagers reaching their optimum performance.
We are not suggesting it will be easy; however the following suggestions may improve their sleep and help lure your teenager out of bed each day.
Early to bed – even if falling asleep is difficult, encourage a regular bed time that includes time for relaxing and winding down. Banish electronic devices and remove the temptation to respond to friends.
Reward positive attitude – bribery is fine if necessary. Offer incentives to motivate your teenager out of bed; driving themselves to school, a weekend party, a reduction in chores, whatever it takes.
Make it a game - find a fun way to wake up. This may be their latest favourite artist up loud, being jumped on by a sibling or family pet, even a workout alarm clock that needs 20 bicep curls to turn off.
Plan ahead – take some pressure off the morning routine by being prepared. Encourage teens to pack school bags, pack lunches or lay out clothes the night before to gain a few more minutes in bed.
Keep it regular – even on weekends. Busy week day schedules can mean kids are looking for a Sunday sleep in to catch up. Sleeping until lunchtime simply creates issues that night and the following day. Short naps early afternoon are more effective.