Help – My teen won’t wake up?
With clocks springing forward this weekend, we can welcome sunnier days and brighter evenings, but I’m sure parents of teens are thinking NOOOOOO my teen already struggles to get out of bed every morning – and now we lose an hour.
I am one of those mums who has always worried, sometimes obsessed, about how much sleep my children are getting, especially when they were babies. I felt there was always a direct link between behaviour and the amount of sleep they had. This hasn’t changed in their pre-teen and teen years. I think sleep is even more important at this stage to promote growth and development through puberty.
But what is the right amount of sleep and is your teen getting enough?
According to The National Sleep Foundation, teens need an average of 8-10 hrs per night, and pre-teens 9-11 hrs per night. But this can vary from person to person depending on age, environmental factors, daily sleep habits, activity levels and overall health.
During adolescence, teens also experience a biological shift to a later sleep-wake cycle because their melatonin release occurs later in the evening—usually around 11 p.m.—and drops later in the morning. This explains why teenagers are full of energy later in the day/evening, but then struggle in the morning to get up for school.
It's common for children to develop inconsistent sleep schedules during puberty. Up late at night and up early during the school week, many teens sleep late on weekends to recover from the sleep debt they’ve accrued. But sleeping late on weekends only reinforces the delay in their biological clock, making it more difficult for them to fall asleep at a reasonable hour during the week. This erratic sleep schedule puts teens in a vicious cycle, in which they spend the week coping with a growing sleep debt, struggling to stay alert during the day, growing more and more tired as the week goes along. By the weekend they’re exhausted and ready to sleep in—and the cycle begins all over again.
So, what can parents do?
Work with your teen to help them stay on a consistent schedule throughout the week and weekend.
Agree a set a bedtime and wake time with your teens that allows them to get the nightly sleep they need. (Every teen will be different, so pay attention to signs of sleep deprivation and adjust their hours accordingly.)
On the weekends, it’s okay to let teens sleep in a little bit. An extra 30 minutes or an hour won’t throw off their body clocks and won’t leave them wide awake at midnight on Sunday evening. But keep the weekend lie-ins to no more than 60 minutes of additional rest.
How can I help my teen sleep better?
- Limit screens for at least 1 hour before bedtime, as the bright screens stimulate your mind and keep you awake.
- Make their bedroom sleep friendly. It should be cool, quiet and dark. Make sure their mattress and pillow are comfortable, and make bedrooms tech free.
- Get them into a good routine. Have a regular bedtime and waking time, even at the weekends.
- Suggest a bedtime ritual to give your body a sign that it is time to settle and fall asleep. For example, brush your teeth and read a book for 15 minutes.
- A warm bath or shower before bed to helps relaxation. The heat helps increase body temperature; and when the skin cools down and loses heat, melatonin rises, which helps them fall asleep. Use a product to help them smell clean and fresh and calm their senses, like Natural Bodywash – Sens Bodycare
- A light snack or warm milky drink before bed to help them sleep soundly through the night without waking up hungry.
- Make sure they exercise regularly. This can help them fall and stay asleep more easily.
- Getting outside for some time every day, keeps their internal body clock on track.
From all my research, I have found that sleep is so important because it impacts everything else they do. As parents, we can help our teenagers establish habits and attitudes about sleep that they will carry into adulthood.
For more information visit: Teens & Young People - Teen Sleep Hub