Parenting: Teenagers and a lack of sleep
January 22, 2012 (WPVI) -- My middle son, Billy, catches the bus to high school at 6:50 in the morning. That means he's up by 6:00 a.m. about five mornings a week.
After school he has weight room and is rarely home before 5:45 p.m. On Tuesdays, he has a confirmation class, on Wednesdays he has a guitar lesson so it's not surprising that by the time he gets his homework done, he's rarely asleep before 11:00 p.m.
On the weekends, he's often so tired he'll sleep for 14 or 15 hours straight - and he's not the only teen who's tired.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, "Teens need about 9 -1/4 hours of sleep each night to function best (for some, 8 -1/2 hours is enough). Most teens do not get enough sleep-one study found that only 15 percent reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights."
The Foundation article goes on to outline the consequences of an ongoing lack of sleep, including an inability to concentrate, acne, other skin problems, aggressive behavior, tendency to eat unhealthy food, weight gain, heightened effects/use of alcohol, illness and unsafe driving.
What can we as parents do to encourage our kids to get enough sleep?
When my boys were little, we had a routine: bath, story time and bed. I was in control of when they were tucked in but I can't exactly do that with a 10th-grader!
Now, we as parents can only encourage good habits and maybe point out how much better our teens feel and function when they're well-rested.
Some tips from the Sleep Foundation:
In an article by the staff of the Mayo Clinic, there are similar suggestions, but also these ideas:
I wish I could say we follow all these tips, but it's hard to unplug a kid who does his homework on a school-issued laptop.
It's probably worth it to discuss these strategies with your tired teen - if tfey can stay awake long enough for the discussion!
amy buckman parenting reports, parenting, amy buckman
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