PHOENIX – If you’re like me and have teens at home, you know how tough it can be for them to get adequate sleep.
Experts say most teens need about nine hours of sleep per night. But between homework, the constant pull of Facebook and texting, sports, part-time jobs and early-morning classes, most never get that much.
So, What’s the Big Deal?
Well, it is a big deal. Not only does sleep deprivation make teens irritable, it can also cause serious problems like trouble concentrating and staying awake in class. I know we all hate to think about this, but a sleepyhead behind the wheel? That can be as bad as drinking and driving.
I Know What You’re Thinking…
You’re thinking, “Well, heck, I was a teen once, had a busy schedule, and lived through it.” While that’s true, you have to admit the pressures on our kids these days are enormous and the expectations from family, friends, and society in general make me shudder. Plus it seems almost impossible for kids to disconnect (from cell phones, computers, TV, etc.) and get in that down time that makes a difference.
What To Do?
There’s only so much parents can do when teens reach a certain age. You can’t follow them around all the time and force them to go to sleep. That will seriously backfire. First, arm yourself with knowledge - there’s a ton of information about teen sleep issues online. Second, I like to share information in little bite-sized nuggets with a generous sprinkling of sympathy as in, “I don’t think I could make it as a teenager these days.”
Finally, create an atmosphere of calm at home in the evening (obviously sometimes easier said than done). If you relax and set the example, for instance, reading at night instead of being glued to a screen, it might just rub off.