Why Is My Teen So Tired?
If you have a teen, you may have noticed that they are notorious for wanting to stay up late and sleep in in the mornings. You may have also noticed that they are difficult to wake for school, and complain of being tired- a lot. Teens seem to live in a state of constant grogginess. This can not only make them cranky and irrational, but can also lead to poor grades, depression, and falling asleep at inappropriate times like in class or behind the wheel of a car. To try and prevent these negative outcomes, it is important to try and understand why sleep is a challenge for teens — and what can be done promote better sleep for your teen.
Why Teens Are Struggling with Sleep
A recent National Sleep Foundation poll discovered that around 80 percent of adolescents don’t get the recommended eight and a half to nine hours of sleep a night that they need. This could be because of the social demands that teens face today. Between early-morning classes, homework, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, friends, and the use of electronic devices, teens are finding it difficult to make time to sleep for a decent stretch of time.
On top of all of that, your teens biology may be working against them. According to the Mayo Clinic, everyone has an internal clock that influences body temperature, sleep cycles, appetite and hormonal changes. The psychological and biological patterns that follow this internal clock cycle are called circadian rhythms. When a teen goes through puberty, it changes their internal clock, delaying the times they start to feel sleepy and awaken – meaning it is natural for them to not be able to fall asleep before 11 or 12 at night.
How Lack of Sleep Could Be Hurting Your Teen
With early school times, teens can lose hours of valuable sleep time during the week. And, though sleep deprivation might not seem like a big deal, it can have serious consequences. Even losing just 30 minutes of sleep each night will result in sleep deprivation. The sleep debt acquired over the week can hamper all of your teens activities from learning to driving. Teens that are not getting the proper amount of sleep may suffer from any or all of the following symptoms:
• Problems with behavior – inappropriate outbursts, anger, impatience, mood swings
• Trouble with memory and concentration
• Trouble staying awake in class
• Struggling with cognitive tasks
• Depression and other mood disorders
• Increased likelihood of risky behavior
• Prone to acne and other skin conditions
• Weight gain and obesity
• Drowsy driving accidents
Solutions to Help Your Teen Get More Sleep
Set a good example.
Adolescents follow their parents example. If you aren’t getting a proper amount of sleep at night, then you aren’t teaching your teen that sleep is a priority. Create an atmosphere that promotes good sleep hygiene and healthy sleep habits.
Make sleep a priority.
Sleep is as important to your teen’s overall health as staying active, a balanced diet, and a happy home. Decide what you need to change in your teens schedule/activities to help them get more sleep.
Create a Supportive Sleep Environment
Check your teen’s sleep environment. Make sure that they have a comfortable sleep surface and that their room is at a temperature that promotes sleep. Their sleep environment should be free of distractions like electronic devices (cell phones, laptops, game systems), noise and excess light.
Have your teen go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Don’t falter on weekends. A sleep schedule helps ensure that your teen gets the proper amount of sleep they need and makes it easier for them to fall asleep at night. The National Sleep Foundation states that a consistent sleep schedule will help you feel less tired since it allows your body to get in sync with its natural patterns.
Avoid Stimulants Within a Few Hours of Bedtime
No food or drinks. This especially applies to food and drink that contain sugars and/or caffeine. They should also avoid exercise and doing homework within a few hours of sleep time. This overstimulates the brain and makes it more difficult to wind down and fall asleep. They should shut off all electronics and not sleep with their phone because the lights from the electronics disrupt sleep. It is better to stick to activities that are calm and quiet in the last couple of hours leading up to bedtime.
Practice a Bedtime Routine
Have your teen do the same things every night before they go to bed. This will teach their body signals that it is time to go to sleep. For example: Drink a glass of water, shower, dress for bed, read a book for a half-hour or so, shut off the light, fall asleep.