By Paula Franken
Staying up into the wee hours, then sleeping half the day is a well-worn teen stereotype. (And maybe one you recognize — or remember.) But what’s the reason behind it?
Teenagers need between eight and 10 hours of sleep to be their best. And when schedules are packed with school, sports, clubs, friends and jobs, the only time many of them find to unwind is late at night — after the family’s in bed and the house is theirs.
According to the Sleep Foundation, teens’ tendency to become night owls is partly biological. Their bodies take longer to start producing melatonin, the hormone that helps promote sleep. So teenagers just don’t get tired until later. By then, it’s too late to get the sleep they need and make it to school on time.
Lack of sleep can make it hard to focus, or even stay awake in class. Napping might be the first priority when they get home, which may make it tough to fall asleep later.
You can help them change the cycle. A few tips can make it easier for your teen (or anyone) to fall asleep:
- Keep the bedroom cool, dark and quiet.
- Don’t do homework, play video games or use a smartphone in bed.
- Don’t drink energy drinks or other caffeinated beverages after mid-afternoon.
- Limit screen time before bed.
It’s also recommended that on weekends, teenagers get up within two to four hours of their usual wake time on weekdays. So yes, out of bed by lunchtime is fair.
And in a few years, they might even agree with you on that.
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