If there is a teen in your home, it is quite likely that there are several arguments about when they should go to sleep. Teens are at that delicate age when they think they are fully developed adults and we parents think they are still babies who need to listen to us and do what is right (as per our views).
Your worrying about their late hours and irregular sleep patterns are justified and also scientifically-backed. However, your worries only make this situation worse and exaggerate the effects.
I have a couple of boys and the younger one is just at the fag end of his teens. He has friends around the world who chat with him at odd hours. He follows European football league matches and that is also at odd hours. Any amount of cajoling, shouting or reasoning will not work on him. His hormones are kicked in and his circle of friends and their habits have a huge influence on him and fretting and fuming would not work at all at this juncture.
Since we are in lockdown for almost 5 months now, there is neither football practice sessions, nor the requirement to go to school. So there is no requirement to wake up early too.
I'm resigned to him being awake till the wee hours of the morning and sleeping in late. Every month, I'm hoping this is the last month of lockdown and he will be back to his usual routine of sleeping at a resonable hour and waking up early enough to start his morning routine.
My long-term relationship will be affected if I have skirmishes daily on his habit of chatting late at night with his friends or watching the matches at the time it occurs, rather than watching the recordings a few hours later. So I've held my counsel though making him aware of what I believe is good for him, once.
I share information on what is the right quantity of sleep required and what happens to our body when we sleep along with our circadian rhythm. The decision on when to sleep and when to wake up I've left with him. He's a young adult and he should get used to taking his own decisions and facing the consequences - whether good or bad. I can only give him the relevant data and allow him to take his own call.
This video is a good one to understand the benefits of sleeping at the right time.
Teen sleep deprivation is a growing public health issue because most young adults simply aren’t getting enough sleep.
The downside of sleep deprivation for teens are:
1. Adolescents’ brains and bodies are still developing and sleep is one of three most important ingredients in ensuring this development. The other two are nutrition and exercise.
2. Ability to concentrate and perform well at school is adversely affected by sleep deprivation
3. Inadequate sleep is linked to health problems such as obesity, anxiety and depression.
4. Inadequate sleep stresses and affects the moods of the teens, thus affecting their relationships.
5. Teen drivers can have an increased risk of car accidents because microsleep can affect them while they drive.
12 Tips for parents of teens:
1. Treat them like adults. Share relevant information and let them make their own decision on their sleep routine and stick to it.
2. Give them control of their life. Empower them and let them be. Just support when they ask for it.
3. You need to behave the way you are asking them to behave. Set the example. And don't break-down if they are not following it. They are just testing you to see how far you will last.
4. Do not give them a TV / Computer in their bedroom. That should be in another room (or drawing room)
5. Set limits along with them on their screen time at night. And help them to follow it
6. Lead an active lifestyle and involve them in some exercise/dance or active routine that will get them to sweat and pump up their heart for at least 30 mins a day
7. No caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks) after lunch. The half-life of caffeine is 6 hours and quarter-life is 12hours.
8. Create a routine that both of you follow so their sleep gets automated.. Easier to say than follow. But work on it till it syncs
9. Create a sleep-friendly bedroom. Dark drapes, muted lights, fresh sheets. Temperature to be a few degrees cooler than outside (assuming you are in a tropical/temperate climate)
10. Bed is only for sleeping - not for eating, reading, studying, lolling about, tossing and turning. Once this is adopted your teen would sleep the minute their head hits the pillow.
11. Avoid long week-end lie-ins.
12. Phones should be charged outside the bedroom
If you are worried about your teen, I suggest that you examine your own habits and behaviors and find which of them is influencing your teen to exhibit this behavior. If there is nothing that you need to change, then let your teen make his/her own discovery on what is the right sleep habits to adopt and be there when you are needed.
There is no magic wand. it's just clarity, sincerity, honesty and love that will see you through this crucial phase.
Read more about how many hours of sleep is right for different age groups. Click here