If you have to force your teen to hit the sack at a decent hour or practically need a cattle prod to get him or her out of bed in the morning, you’re hardly alone. The truth is, nearly 80 percent of adolescents don’t get the recommended amount of sleep on a regular basis. Besides leaving your teen yawning and cranky during the day, sleep deprivation can increase the chances that he or she will perform poorly in school, become depressed or stressed out, get colds more frequently, or have an accident while driving.
It’s normal for teens to sleep a lot, partly because their bodies and brains are growing. Between the ages of 14 and 17, teens typically need eight to 10 hours of sleep per night. If your teen seems tired and irritable all the time, you might blame these changes on the infamous hormonal swings that accompany adolescence, but they could be signs of insufficient sleep. While it’s natural for teens to stay up late at night and get up late in the morning, thanks to shifts in their bodies’ internal clocks (a.k.a. circadian rhythms) there are things that you can do to ensure that your teen gets plenty of shut-eye.
First off, your teen may claim to not have enough time to sleep, given all the homework and other responsibilities that he or she has. That’s when you, as a parent, should encourage your teenager to make smart choices. Perhaps, for example, it’s time for your teen to give up a non-essential after-school activity or job, or maybe it’s time for him or her to stop texting or socializing on the Internet. You’ll also want your teen to take responsibility for establishing good sleep hygiene habits in the minutes and hours before bed.
While it’s okay to let your teen catch up on sleep a little bit on the weekends, try to limit sleeping in to an extra hour or two on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Otherwise, you may inadvertently cultivate a binge-sleeping habit, and that could set your teen up to experience the home-based equivalent of jet lag—making it harder to go to sleep at a reasonable hour at night and wake up when he or she needs to for school on weekday mornings.