My daughter was always an early riser from the very beginning but long gone is the sleeping beauty I remember, we are more like sleeping moody these days, still beautiful in my eyes but with a perma scowl on her face especially when she sees me! She sleep walks through the day except when speaking to her friends or having to show some enthusiasm with online learning!
Yes I am talking about my teen! Now 15 we are in full swing of the Kevin the teenager stage (for those of you who remember the comedy) and it literally happened over night.
Due to my work alongside teenagers who are suffering from a challenging time in their lives (they help me design and produce my bedding) I do a lot of research on teenagers, as first and foremost I find it extremely interesting, but also helpful to understand and therefore support these complex strangers who appear over night and not surprisingly they are an explosive combination of hormones, toddlers and young adults!
You may wonder what I mean by toddlers but did you know that when a child reaches their teenage years their brains revert to being toddlers again. They completely rewire their brains, hence the moodiness, bad judgement calls and change in sleep patterns.
The change in sleep patterns is also due to a shift in circadian rhythm, our natural sleep patterns. Researchers believe that teens are “pre-programmed” to fall asleep late and get up late, needed for growth hormones made during sleep. Due to all the above reasons teenagers naturally stay awake later in the evening (11pm is a natural time for them to go to bed) and need 9 -9.5hrs sleep rather than the 8hrs of an adults and pre teens.
Therefore with the early start times for school and all the extras they have on top like homework, activities etc a lack of sleep can have a knock on effect on their mood, mental well being and behaviour.
It is therefore important for us parents to put our exasperation to one side (I speak for myself) and try to help them get the best quality sleep we can, when they do go to bed! Some tips I have been given by a company called teentip.com (they specialise in teenage mental health and support for parents is the following)
- No electronic devices in the bedroom! Not only is it tempting for them to play games or interact with friends to the early hours, the light given off from the devices can also affect quality of sleep. No screens except TV an hour before bed.
- Have a nice warm bath or shower to help relax using some aromatherapy smells.
- Put in black out blinds if your teen is sensitive to light and make it as quiet a place as possible.
- 20 mins in the sunlight first thing in the morning
- Exercise in the day but not too soon before bedtime. If yoga or meditation is your thing then before bed is a perfect time.
- Don’t eat sugary foods or drink caffeine close to bedtime.
- Have a notebook by your bed, if you have worries or need to remember something for the next day write it down.
- Make sure you bedding is breathable. 100% cotton or linen. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been contacted about how much better customers sleep when not using a cheap polymix! (A lot of my friends buy cheap for their boys especially as they are smelly etc but end up buying cotton when they realise how much better their child’s quality of sleep is)
- No sleeping past midday
- Hot milky drinks really do work!
So remember the next time your teens nocturnal behaviour and therefore subsequent late mornings drives you potty, its not completely their fault and using the above tips can help alleviate your stress and theirs and maybe help you come to a mutual compromise on their bedtime routine. It will also hopefully bring you closer to them by working as a team, giving them necessary boundaries for their own health but also making them feel they are part of the process. We all know how much teens hate being told my their parents what to do!