As you’ll see in our teenagers guide to sleep, the relationship between pre-teens, teenagers and sleep can be quite the roller coaster ride. On one hand teens seem to avoid sleep, staying up to the wee hours of the morning. Then the following day sleeping in, taking naps or passing out just about anywhere.
Is it just poor sleep habits that they are learning to maneuver? Or is there something going on with their growing and changing hormones that is causing these shifts in sleeping habits? We are going to answer these questions and many more as we go through the different sleep complications that often plague teenagers. Keep reading our teenagers guide to sleep to learn more.
Why Do Teenagers Struggle to Get Enough Sleep?
Before we get into the tips and tricks for better sleep it is good to understand the possible ways that a teen’s sleep is being impacted. Some of these may make the light bulb go off that may trigger solutions immediately. While it may be less obvious or even a combination of reasons.
Rapid Growth Spurts
Is you teen or pre-teen oversleeping? Are they getting to bed on time yet still come home exhausted, sleep in, taking naps during the day, or even getting in trouble for falling asleep in class? These are all signs that your child might be going through a growth spurt. Especially if this is combined with a larger than usual appetite.
Growth spurts are draining on the body, it takes a lot of energy to grow. Which is why their body needs more rest during this time. We suggest making sure they are getting enough sleep at night during this time. When a growth spurt is combined with staying up late, this is when a lot of sleeping at less than appropriate times can occur. Like falling asleep in class.
Make sure you take in these signals and don’t misinterpret this kind of behavior as laziness. Teens need their sleep to grow up, getting enough sleep will also greatly improve their emotional state and attitudes as well. Remember that no one feels like being polite and listening to their parents when they are exhausted.
Shifts in Hormones
Many of our regular functions, like sleeping, is often heavily controlled by our different hormones. For example, melatonin is a hormone that our bodies produce to signal that it is time to go to sleep and get some rest. Preteens and teenagers are going through major changes in their hormone products. Everything is going into hyper drive and trying to find a new balance. Which means there is a lot going on. Our hormones effect far more than just what we tend to give them credit for.
During the hormonal shifts of adolescence the circadian rhythm goes through a reset. Typically the hormone melatonin which is linked to your circadian rhythm starts to kick in later in the evening. This can be perpetuated by blue light emitted by screens late in the evenings as well. Which makes it harder to fall asleep earlier. This can make it harder for your teen to fall asleep at bedtime.
Being a teenager can be a very stressful time of life. Social life can be chaotic, school and work can be demanding, parents still have a lot of control over your life. Yet you are learning to be in control of your own life and make very important decisions for your future. Being a teenager is by no means a stress free time. Stress and anxiety can make it very difficult to get a healthy nights rest.
Anxiety can lead to bouts of insomnia. Finding ways to manage stress and lower anxiety is an important life lesson to learn. Many adults struggle with these same problems, managing stress and anxiety is important for all of us to accomplish. Not only will it help you get a good nights rest, it will also affect just about every aspect of your life as well.
Depression is a very common for teenagers, and it can look different for a lot of people. However, it often takes a tole on healthy sleep habits. While some people oversleep, often due to a lack of drive or will to start the day.
Many others may find that they struggle with insomnia, some can experience a combination of the two. Whether it is caused by shifting hormones, outside situations, or hormone imbalances in the brain they should all be taken very seriously. Talking to a doctor or therapist is always recommended and can truly help.
Social lives are often very active for teens. Their social lives can also be very complex and stressful. With social media and cell phones now teens can be in contact with each other 24/7. Which means without set limitations, there active lives never shut off. Which in hectic and chaotic especially for teenagers.
It could mean being tempted to stay up and talk with friends, hunt through social media posts, or so on and so forth. This can make it hard to shut off and go to sleep. Teaching limitations on when to allow anyone to be in contact with you is something we could all benefit from doing. Keep in mind that practicing what you preach when it comes to phone and internet usage is important.
Whether they are on their phone, tablet, social media, video games, computer, or TV screens are very disruptive to sleep. Not only do these items have an endless stream of stimulation that is addictive and difficult to turn off and go to sleep.
They also emit blue light, which is the same kind of light made by the sun. This artificial blue light and throw off circadian rhythms, making your mind think it is still daylight. This can mean you do not feel tired because your mind is triggered by the light to think it is time to be awake.
This is not only true for teenagers this is also true for all humans of any age. It is just difficult for teenagers to find and set limitations. It is also difficult because their circadian rhythm is already going through a change during adolescence and puberty. Turn off the screens a few hours before bed. This will help you all get to sleep.
It is not news to anyone that teenagers make strange diet choices. Yet junk food, greasy food, sugar, and caffeine are all common foods for destroying your sleep.
We all can have fun nights and sleep overs but it is important to teach your kids the types of foods that often make it difficult to have a great nights sleep. This way they can make informed decisions on what they are going to eat on days when they know they need rest.
How To Create Healthy Sleeping Habits For Life:
Sometimes teens are looked at as young adults, however they are still young and could use some guidance. Parents are there to not only help their kids make the right choices but guide them into making lifelong healthy habits, including sleep. Below are several tips to that offer great support to ensure your teenager gets adequate rest.
Limit Screen Time
There is an unlimited amount of entertainment out there. Which means we have to teach ourselves how to turn off the TV, smartphone, and tablets in order to get rest. This is difficult for all of us, but it is important for many reasons.
Especially for getting to sleep at night. We suggest having a set time to turn off the screens and get ready for sleep. Keep in mind that this is something important for you to do as well.
Help Them Manage & Balance Responsibilities:
With school, social life, and all the many other demands of being a teenager weighing on their shoulders. It is important as parental units to teach teenagers how to manage their schedules and balance their responsibilities.
This is a great life lesson to be taught early on, it can be much more difficult to learn later in life. Learning that everything in life has a time and place is helpful for knowing when to put down one thing and start the next.
Whether it is time to stop studying and spend some time with friends. Or stop socializing and get to sleep. Even though there is a lot on our plates, there is time enough for everything that is truly important to us. It is all about managing time wisely and creating space for the truly important things in life.
Be There To Listen:
I once was told that when your children are little, parenting is all about when you talk to them. When your kids grow up to be teenagers, parenting is more about being available for when your kids are wanting to speak to you.
Communication can easily be missed because of daily distractions from work to tv and social life. It is vital that we give our kids time to listen to them whenever they are wanting to talk.
If you miss that open door for communication, it might be closed whenever you feel like talking to them. Be there to listen to your kids, it helps with a great number of potential problems that can lead to lack of sleep.
Give Them a Therapist To Talk To:
Sometimes we as parents simply do not have all the tools needed to help our kids. Which is why it takes a village to raise a child into an adult. Therapists can be incredibly helpful for teenagers to learn how to maneuver through these complicated years of life.
It is also important to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health. If you want to get in shape, a personal trainer is a great tool to use for your physical health. Just like seeing a therapist is a great resource for strengthening your mental health.
Allow Natural Consequences
Tired of forcing your kids awake? Allow your kids to experience their own consequences, by allowing them to be in charge of their own wake up call. First and foremost, inform your teen that you will be allowing them to wake themselves up. This is important for avoiding the “I am late and it is your fault for not telling me” situation. Then, give them a clear and fair warning of when you will stop waking them up.
The end goal is for your child to become self sufficient and wake themselves up for their day. However, of course most of the time it will not turn out this way. When the time comes that your child is not waking themselves up on time, allow them to go through the natural consequences of that.
Allow them to be late to school, miss the bus, get in trouble. Also be sure you make it clear what the consequences will be at home if they don’t make it to school on time. This is sort of a “tough love” approach. However, sometimes you have to theoretically touch the hot stove to know it burns.
If we have said it once, we have said it a dozen times. Get a weighted blanket! Weighted blankets are such wonderful products that use deep pressure therapy to induce a sense of calm and reduce stress and anxiety.
It has been tested and proven to be helpful for stress, anxiety, depression, and even for those who struggle with insomnia. Weighted blankets are great for naps, getting to sleep faster, and even to simply lower stress. There are a great tool and if you don’t have one, you should probably get one as well.
Being able to get a full nights rest is vital for having a happy and healthy life. However, getting to sleep can be difficult for anyone. With all of the many changes happening for preteens and teenagers, it can be even more difficult. We hope all of this information and tips helps you to understand and help your teen to get the sleep they need to be happy, healthy, and successful.
Have some lingering questions for us? Send us a message through our Contact Us page. We would be happy to help in anyway we can.