By Craig Rogers
It's a struggle to get your teen out of bed. Her alarm clock goes off, but she continues to sleep soundly. Even when you open the blinds to let the morning light in, she groans and throws the covers over her head. You have to practically drag her out of bed to get her to class. Your once punctual child has become a perpetually tardy teenager. What's wrong with her? Why is my teenage girl sleeping so much?
Chances are, your teenager is not getting enough sleep. Recent studies show that teenagers need between 9 and 9 ½ hours of sleep every night to perform their best during the day. Unfortunately, overloaded schedules prevent many teens from getting the sleep their developing bodies need. The demands of school, extracurricular activities, jobs, social life, and entertainment (movies, television, e-mail, video games) result in many teenagers getting only 6 or 7 hours of sleep.
Research shows that while teenagers sleep, hormones are released to promote growth and development. It's especially important that teens get enough rapid eye movement (REM) sleep to boost their learning and memorizing abilities. Not enough sleep can make your teenager struggle to stay awake in school. It can also make her moody, lethargic, and unable to concentrate on important activities, like driving.
The solution is not as simple as getting her to bed by 8:00 PM. Your teenager's biological clock works differently than a child's or adult's. If your teen tends to stay up late and get up late, it's because of her internal clock.
Some school districts have begun to shift their schedules to accommodate students' biological clocks, starting classes after 8:00 AM. Until this becomes a universal practice, though, you'll have to work with your teen to help her get enough sleep and stay alert in class.
Here are ways to help:
- Empathize. Your teen is NOT lazy. On the contrary, they are probably overloaded and sleep-deprived. Remember, teenagers need at least 9 hours of sleep every night.
- Encourage your teen to "wind down" near bedtime. Reading, listening to soft music, meditating, or doing yoga are great ways to slow down and prepare for a good night's rest.
- Eliminate any caffeinated foods and drinks, including sodas, coffees, and chocolates, after about 4:00 PM.
- How to reduce stress in teens? Simplify her life. Can she work fewer hours at her part-time job? Can she finish homework earlier in the day? Can she e-mail her friends well before bedtime?
- Light up her room in the morning. Sunlight, daylight, or even bright room lights can help her shift into wake mode. But don't expect her to jump out of bed!
- Talk. Tell your teen what's going on with her growing body. Let him know that getting more sleep will help him feel better and have more energy. Once they understand what's happening, they'll probably want to go to bed earlier.
In certain cases the teens biological clock is not the only reason they are sleeping so much. Excessive sleeping is often a sign of potential drug/ substance abuse or even depression. It can be very challenging for parents to determine whether or not their teen is using drugs or alcohol. Look for drastic changes in behavior, this can often be a clue to what might be going on. Zion Educational Service can assist parents of substance abusive teens to help them restore their family back to its original state and to get help for the struggling teen. The child placing specialists at ZES can be reached at (888) 597-9495 at anytime to assist parents through this extremely challenging time.