Is your teen getting enough sleep? The American Sleep Disorders Association says that teens should get 9 to 10 hours of sleep every day, because the hormones needed for proper growth are usually released by the body during the sleep cycle.
But most teens get just 7 hours of sleep, usually because of late night parties. Even if they’re in their bedrooms, they’re surfing the internet, playing video games, text messaging…or tossing and turning, kept up by one too many frappuccinos. Here’s what concerned parents can do.
Bedtime isn’t just for kids
Parents are often stricter about bedtimes with younger kids, and even push back night-time curfews for teens. Ironically, ten-year-olds actually need less sleep than teenagers, because of the dramatic growth spurt that occurs during adolescence.
Signs your teen isn’t getting enough sleep
Your teen will probably tell you that he’s fine. But you know he’s not getting enough sleep if he has trouble getting out of bed in the morning, and becomes cranky and short-tempered in the afternoon. They may also fall asleep in class, or their grades may slip because of poor memory and concentration. You may also notice forgetfulness at home: they lose things, or have trouble paying attention during a conversation. Then, on weekends, their bodies give in and they oversleep.
Constant sleep deprivation can cause long-term problems—bad grades, mood swings (as if their hormones weren’t bad enough). It can also contribute to depression. If your teen drives, he may also fall asleep at the wheel!
Help your teen get more sleep
Set bedtime rules for your teen, explaining why it’s for his health. If he has trouble settling down, suggest a bedtime routine for him: exercise two hours before bedtime, a warm and relaxing bath, then a quiet activity to help him wind down before he goes to bed. It’s best if he doesn’t do his homework just before he goes to sleep, because the stress may keep him wired up. He will probably enjoy surfing the Internet, but keep the computer in a communal room so you can monitor his usage and remind him when to shut it off and go to bed.
Teens like to consume lots of caffeine, not just from Starbucks but sodas and chocolate. Tell him to cut down, and take no caffeine after 4 p.m. The best way to do that is to not have sodas in the house. Stock up on juices or decaf versions.
Photo from guaranteedtosleep.com