I started a bedtime routine for my two boys the moment we brought them home from the hospital. While the bedtimes have changed we all still stick, as much as possible, to the same routine.
There are times though when I wonder exactly what time the boys fall to sleep at – I mean let’s face it I know they are tired during school days from wakening up early but sometimes I wonder if my teens get enough sleep.
I read an article recently that noted experts were warning school start times work against teenagers because their body clock can be nearly three hours behind that of an adult which could lead to chronic sleep deprivation. I’ve also read that a lack of sleep – as us mothers know all too well – can lead to many problems but in teenagers it can lead to poor school performance and depression. So, some are recommending that school starts later especially for teenagers.
Teenagers aged between 13 and 18 are advised to sleep between eight and 10 hours but most report sleeping seven hours or less on school nights. So, what are we parents to do?
Below are some tips which I hope help you as much as they have helped us with our boys.
ROUTINE IS IMPORTANT
We all love routine in our family and now the boys are teenagers we insist on a set bedroom time – which is different from a bed time. It’s more of a wind down time for everyone to get ready to go to sleep. It’s the time where people can get washed and changed, listen to music, be on the internet to catch up with friends.
Having a consistent bedtime routine is a great way to start things off and not just for teenagers, starting as early as possible is extremely important as routine is often a soothing and constant experience for children and it is the same for teenagers. While we no longer have to bath our children, suggesting a hot shower at bed time can be a great way of relaxing them and it also helps with time management in the mornings too!
DEDICATED SWITCH OFF TIME
While the following recommendation will be extremely difficult it is so worthwhile. Set an ‘internet off time’ for us that’s the time the internet goes off the boys’ devices. This is so important as a recent international study found that teenagers are spending more than six hours a day online and this has been causing them problems with sleep among other issues.
Another reason for switching the internet and devices off is that light from them can cause your teenager’s brain to be alert affecting their ability to sleep. Of course your teenagers will hate it but be persistent to ensure they get enough sleep.
It may seem odd but there are things you can encourage your teenager to do – or not do – to aid sleep. These can include:
- Ensuring they don’t drink anything with caffeine four hours before going to bed.
- Exercise during the day.
- Eat something with carbs in before bed such as bread/toast to aid sleep or indeed a cup of warm milk works wonders!
- Encourage them to have a hot shower before bed.
TEACH YOUR TEENAGER RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
Teenagers are under a lot of pressure during this time of their life, add to it exams and it’s a recipe for stress and being unable to sleep. How about giving them the tools to help them relax before bed? You can find great videos on YouTube about breathing techniques, guided visualisation or meditation. These will help them not only to relax but will benefit them later in life too.
DO AS I SAY AND DO
It’s important to be supportive of your teenager and help them with their bedtime routines and as we have an ‘internet off time’ for the boys we also have one for ourselves! It’s important for us to be good role models for our kids and that means we have down time before bed too!
We all value sleep in our house and it certainly makes for a pleasant household when everyone has had a good night’s rest.
I hope you find these tips useful. I would love to know what your thoughts are on setting bed times for your teenagers?
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