In part 1 of this series, we discovered that teens really do need a lot of sleep to keep up with their growing bodies. A lot of changes are happening in them during this time of development—physically and emotionally—all requiring many hours of snooze time.
In order for teens to get the sleep they really need, we know their busy schedules need to be simplified—a lot! So, how can parents help make that happen?
To begin with, sit down and talk with your teen. While they may not have the wisdom and experience as that of an adult, they know what they enjoy doing and what is a burden to them. Evaluate their load of activities to see which ones are enriching compared with those that are draining. Is your child learning valuable lessons needed for the future, or are they just wanting to please you with their performance in the various opportunities they’re busy with each day? These are hard questions that may not be answered in one conversation.
It is much better when teenagers are faced with a lot of free time to slowly add in valuable activities. On the flip side, it is harmful to a teen’s physical and emotional health to be faced with a crammed schedule full of stress and more pressure than they can manage. Here are a few tips that might help you assist them:
Get them moving
Too often teens go from sitting all day in class, to sitting in front of a TV or video game at home. It is a logical conclusion that if you aren’t using much energy throughout the day, you won’t feel as tired in the evening when it is time to sleep.
For some teens, this may be a good time to look into joining a sport at school. Others may enjoy something less structured, like working out at the gym a few days a week, or even going on a walk or run after dinner. As long as the exercise happens two hours before bedtime, anything that gets your teen moving can help their growing body exert activity and then obtain more restful sleep needed.
Give them responsibility
Parenting a teen is a challenge to say the least! Teens are naturally in a developmental stage of wanting independence, sometimes before they are truly ready for it. Anytime you can talk with your teen about their ideas, and try to implement a few is beneficial to their self-confidence. Discuss with them ways that your family members can all work together in discovering new ways to help them get needed sleep.
Experiment with different physical activities together—a trampoline park, or a simple walk in the park offers valuable quality time for all of you. Allow your teen to set up the check-in area for tech devices. Pay attention to their reminders to check your devices in and wind down for bed as much as you expect them to listen to yours. The whole family can be a part of establishing better habits for each member.
Sleep-deprived teens are often [more] moody, have lower academic performance at school, and can even have physical and emotional repercussions. It is our responsibility to make sure our teens get the sleep they need. Getting them in on the effort to change habits can give the whole family a goal to work toward together.