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Teenage Sleep

Do you ever wonder why your teenager suddenly wants to become a night owl? Or why it is so hard for them to get up and get going in the morning? Why is it that when we ask them to get up at 8am, it seems like we are asking them to wake up at 6am? Believe it or not, they are not just being difficult, there is an actual shift in their circadian rhythm that makes there sleep go through a big change during this season of life.

Why is this Happening? When a teenager hits puberty, there is a shift in their circadian rhythm which causes their body to naturally desire sleep later in the evening and wake up later in the morning.

Shift in Bedtime: So how much sleep does your teenager need? Even though their bodies are now wanting to go to bed later, it is still important more than ever with early school starts times and extracurricular activities that teens are still getting adequate amounts of sleep to keep them healthy and alert during the day at school. It is recommended that kids from the ages of 12-18 are still getting 8-10 hours of sleep each night.

Early School Times: More than likely, these summer nights have made for much later bedtimes and later mornings for your teen. With the school year starting up again, you will want to make sure to get your teen back on an earlier bedtime schedule. Jumping back into those early mornings for school can be tough on their minds and bodies. Encourage your teen to go to bed and get up a little earlier each day so that those early school mornings are not such a shock to their bodies.

As Parents How Can We Help with This Change? Be understanding of this change. Morning time for a teenager can be rough. Their bodies won’t let them go to sleep early, so when 8am rolls around and they are getting yelled at to get up, their body feels like it’s 6am…more than likely causing a very grumpy morning for them.

Limit Evening Screen Time: Limit screens (including phones) in the evening about an hour before bedtime to allow your child’s melatonin levels to rise easier. Their body clocks are already on a later schedule, so allowing blue light in from screens late in the evening will make those late nights even later.

Talk about the importance of sleep with you kids: Most of the time our kids don’t know why getting enough sleep is so important. They are unaware of the side effects of poor sleep and how much sleep deprivation can affect them both physically and mentally. Explaining to them your reasons around why you have a set bedtime or curfew might help with any push back you get about early bedtimes.

Start the Morning in Sunlight: Having breakfast outside of near the window in the sun can help regulate your teen’s circadian rhythm, making it easier for them to wake up in the morning and easier to fall asleep at night as well.

Model Good Sleep Habits: Kids look to their parents as an example (even though they may not admit it at this age). Make sure to model good sleep habits for your teen such as; consistent sleep schedules, sleep routines, daily exercise, and cutting back on evening sugars caffeine, and screens.

About the author

Amanda Medley

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Sleep Specialists

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Working with Shannon, I went from 2-3 wake ups every night to 1 or 0. She aligned the plan with my preferred sleep cycle. She was always coaching, never judging. Shannon was great, I have referred MANY people to her! That's the best testament to her work that I can give.

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