How to Improve the Sleep Habits of Teens
What is it about teenagers that makes them nocturnal? They stay up half the night playing video games, watching TV, or texting with friends and then when morning rolls around they can’t get out of bed.
Not only that – they are cranky as all get out. Waking a teenager in the morning is not my favorite part of parenting!
A report published in the Journal of Adolescent Health says that not only are teens not getting enough sleep, the sleep that they are getting tends to be poor quality. Of the 1,125 students studied, 60 percent were not getting sufficient sleep. Many of those studied admitted to using various prescriptions and over the counter sleep aids to assist them.
So how can you help your teen get those nine to ten hours of sleep that he needs every night?
Get on a Schedule
The typical teenager has a late night body clock. Sometimes they honestly can’t fall asleep before 11:00 pm or so. Remember those late nights when your teen was an infant? It was likely a combination of body clock and schedule then, and that is what’s happening now.
The best thing you can do is to make sure that your child is going to bed and getting up at the same time every night – even on the weekends. While it may be tough in the beginning, after a while the habit will kick in and it will be easier for him to fall asleep and wake up on time.
Added benefit? The sleep he gets will be higher quality.
Cut Off Electronics
Another reason kids don’t sleep is (you guessed it) electronics. They can spend hours playing games and chatting with friends – and those hours could be used for sleeping.
Enforcing an electronics curfew can be difficult. I’ll be honest – I’d have to flip the breaker switches on the house to make it happen here. If you can actually accomplish it, the reasons for staying awake may be minimized. Boredom is a great sleep inducer.
Avoid Nighttime Snacking
Dinner should be the last meal of the day and snacking should be avoided after that. Good luck on that one, too.
The body has a harder time relaxing and falling asleep when it is busy with digesting food. If their metabolism is such that they really do need a snack, use things like turkey that have lots of sleep inducing L-tryptophan.
What Doesn’t Affect Sleep
It is interesting to note that the researchers found that the things that you might think were the culprits in your kids’ sleep deprived lives, really aren’t.
Exercise and caffeine aren’t believed to be significant detriments to sleep and don’t seem to affect sleep quality. While a schedule will help your child go to sleep, researchers point out it was not a significant predictor of the actually quality of that sleep.
What did have the most negative effects on the sleep patterns of teenagers? You guessed it – anxiety and stress.
source: Journal of Adolescent Health