As a teenager, you may have taken advantage of weekends and summers, not so much to run free, but to get extra sleep. If you slept in till noon, you weren’t alone. Sleep is as important to well-being as eating well, getting enough water, and breathing. This is especially true during the teenage years, as the body goes through significant changes that require enough sleep to not only perform the typical overnight processes within the body but also to catch up from exhaustion based on hormonal variations and to support rapid growth and other issues related to the physical and mental development of a teen.
But the most common issue affecting the quality of rest in teens today is technology. They are constantly “plugged in” and most even go to bed with their smart devices. IT’s a proven fact that the signals from smartphones, tablets, and wifi signals can seriously mess with your cognitive sleep process. So how can technology be reversed and used to help?
Your teenager will buck against the idea of shutting down phones, game consoles, and television, but this can be essential to his or her health in terms of getting the necessary sleep. Setting a particular amount of time allowed for each technological device, as well as limiting the hours of the day that they are allowed to be in use, can prove essential to ensuring your child is able to fall asleep and stay asleep. Improved resting habits lead to better physical, mental, and emotional health.
Know that teens can be slick, and you may not know that they are using computers and other devices outside of the allowed time slots. Prevent your teen from sneaking some extra time late at night by using parental controls. You can limit the amount of use on any device, as well as the type of use (barring particular websites, apps, etc.), and control when your teen is able to use those devices with Screen.
Turning off these devices a couple of hours before bedtime and limiting the amount of use can help your teen engage in a bedtime ritual that leads to ease of falling asleep and allows them to stay asleep. They won’t be as stimulated, and there won’t be temptation to get up and use these devices during hours of resting.
How Much Sleep Does Your Teen Need?
Research shows that teens, on average, need a full 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. Of course, this can be problematic because the bodily clock in a teenager naturally shifts to later hours, both falling asleep and waking up. In fact, it is normal for your teenager to have trouble falling asleep before 11:00 p.m.
Other factors lead to the reduction of sleep as well, including a fascination with technology. Teens are naturally social creatures, and they want to be with friends as often as possible. Years ago, we only had phones to keep us in contact, but today, technology has created multiple means of getting tied up with social activities late into the night from your own bedroom. Your teen likely engages in Facebook, Skyping, and other computer activities that allow them to chat with friends. They may also be streaming movies into the wee hours or gaming on consoles that are connected through the internet, with headsets so they can play with others.
Technology can be a great help in many ways, but when it comes to your teen’s sleep patterns, it can also be detrimental to his or her health. Spending too much time on electronic devices, whether personally or in a social setting, can keep the mind stimulated rather than allowing the relaxation necessary to fall asleep and stay asleep. In addition, the draw to such devices promotes a carelessness about sleep. Why should I go to bed? I’m not tired, and my friends are still awake. Teenage reasoning often works this way.
How Much Sleep is Your Teen Getting?
You’ll know if your teenager isn’t getting enough sleep. Sure, all teens are dealing with changes to their hormones, general growing pains, and an evolution in the psyche as it develops and matures. But a teenager who is not getting the vital sleep he or she needs will be particularly moody. In fact, you’ll find your teen having extreme difficulty getting along with friends and constantly at odds with the family.
A lack of sleep in teenagers also manifests in school. Grades drop due to mental exhaustion, causing an inability to focus. Your child may even be falling asleep in class because a brain starved for sleep will get what it needs, regardless of the environment. If your child participates in any sports, his or her performance will suffer due to physical exhaustion.
Addressing the Problem
There are a number of ways you can assist your teen in creating healthy sleep habits. It is essential to start with the basics, including helping your child set limits – create a bedtime and wake time, and make sure your teen sticks to it, and avoid screen time at least two hours before bed.
Help your teenager assure that their bedroom is a sleep haven. Muted colors, dim lights, and a comfortable bed can really aid in sleeping comfortably. You might even provide some source of white noise (a fan on low, a humidifier, etc.) that helps comfort the subconscious mind.
Help your teen get into the habit of sleeping better. It will improve their cognitive abilities, physical health, and mood, all of which in turn makes your life more manageable and the time you spend with your teenager more enjoyable. Take into consideration that these are crucial formative years, and take the necessary steps to ease the stress of being a teenager for your child.