Have you simply come to expect your teen to be groggy, cranky or even impulsive?
Well, believe it or not, it may not be all your teenager’s fault.
Alysia Huck explains in this week’s segment of Raising North Dakota.
If your teen is staying up later than usual, part of the reason could be biological.
A person’s circadian rhythm, which is the internal process that regulates your sleep-wake cycle, shifts towards later times in adolescence.
This biological change is out of your teenager’s control and can make it difficult for them to fall asleep at the earlier hour they were once used to.
Sleep Medicine Family Nurse Practitioner Kristy Weigum explains that while giving your teen more freedom as they get older is important, getting into a good sleep routine is crucial.
Weigum explains, “A lot of people don’t realize good sleep habits, how it’s really important for teens, but then too we are also trying to give them more freedom as they’re becoming an adult, and this is the wrong area to kind of let go and let them become their own adult.”
Weigum says chronic sleep deprivation has many effects, especially on the teenager.
It can lead to poor academic performance, poor peer relationships, and overeating, which can increase their risk of obesity and depression.
She says teens who are sleep deprived also tend to make more impulsive decisions, which can lead to risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug use and automobile accidents.
So what is the best thing you can do for your teen when it comes to getting adequate sleep?
“It’s good to teach them good sleep habits, and the biggest thing is helping them have good sleep schedules and good sleep/wake times,” says Weigum. “You want the teen to get at least 8-10 hours of sleep.”
Weigum suggests having supper at a reasonable time such as 5 or 6, no caffeine after supper, avoid food before bed, put away the electronics and implement a media curfew.
She also recommends cutting back on added sugar after supper, because sugar can prevent your teen from noticing the sleepiness like they should.
And as Weigum explains, teaching your teen good sleeping habits early in life has positive longterm effects.
“Parents that are involved and help them with their sleep, these kids carry this on into adulthood and they’ve shown to have better success in life,” explains Weigum. “So it’s good to take an active stance in this, even though you want to give them more freedom.”
And one last tip, if your teen absolutely cannot get to sleep, don’t force it.
She recommends getting out of bed and doing something relaxing until your body is ready to sleep.