It’s tough being a parent of a modern teenager.
You’ve got hormones raging, combined with 24/7 connectivity. You think they’re in bed, fast asleep………….but they’re messaging their friends.
So when the alarm clock sounds in the morning, the BATTLE BEGINS.
Grouch emerges from the bedroom.
And, the grouch spreads like a contagion to all members of the family.
The “JOY” of being the parent of a teenager.
It’s not their fault
Yes, they did stay up too late, engaged in circardian disrupting activities such as
- TV viewing
- Playing video games
- Surfing the net and
But, in their defence, the clock in their head is running on a different time setting. So some of the blame, must be ascribed to their BIOLOGY.
It turns out, one of the by-products of puberty, is a shift toward “eveningness”.
This is what emerged from a recent study, carried out by a team from Brown University.
Monitoring teen sleep patterns
The Brown team tracked the sleeping habits of two groups of “teens”, 94 children in total, over a two and a half year period.
Both boys and girls were included in the study, but they differed in age
- Group 1 was composed of pre-teens (9-10 years old), while
- Group 2 was made up of older teens (15-17 years old)
Assessments happened every 6 months and included “observing” actual sleep patterns, with the help of actigraphy and testing their response to sleep triggers, in the laboratory.
The sleep valet is muted
Dim light brings melatonin, out of the pineal gland. Melatonin’s big job, is to get you ready for sleep – so shortly after he arrives on the scene, you slip into dream land.
The team found, teenagers are able to resist his activities.
As teens matured, they became more proficient at ignoring melatonin’s sleep directive.
Later to bed, still early to rise
The consequence of the melatonin signal being “muted”, is a tendency to go to bed later and later. Which is not a problem, if you can also get up later too.
But, getting up later doesn’t happen too often on weekdays, because, a loud and obnoxious alarm clock, signals it’s time to get up, for school.
So, on a week night, a typical 9 year old, will fall asleep at 9.30 pm and wake up at 6.40 am. By age 11, the same child goes to sleep at 10 pm, but still wakes up at 6.40 am.
The result – a loss of half an hour of sleep, each night.
Older teens are sleep deprived
The sleep situation becomes more precarious as the teen gets older……
In the case of a 15 year old, bed time typically happens at 10.35 pm, with the standard wake up time of 6.40 am remaining in place. By 17 years, bed time has slipped to 11.05 pm, but the start time is still 6.40 am.
Your teen is now officially sleep deprived.
In short………………….an alien takes up residence in your house.
How to get your teenager back ?
If you understand sleeping in, is not a sign of laziness, but driven by biology…………. you can try to be more accommodating.
The more sleep they get, the more human they will be.
PS. You may want to share this research with school authorities too. Odds are, it will be a whole lot easier educating the next generation, if they’re not sleep deprived zombies. In fact, the American Academy of Paediatrics, recently recommended middle and high schools, avoid starting earlier than 8.30 am.
If your little ones report card is keeping you up at night, try an omega-3 supplement, it will improve your child’s sleep, ensuring you sleep a little easier
The world tends to chaos – so every now and again, to keep moving forward, you need to take a moment to CLEAN UP. Your brain NEEDS clean up time too.
Constantly pointing out that the extra kilos are killing your teen could lead to the damaging mindset of living fast and going out with a big bang
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