A Sleep Deprived Teen And What You Can Do About It.
You know that your daughter needs a good night’s sleep, but it’s hard to implement.
You tell her to go to bed, and she tells you that she has to finish her English paper.
And what do you do? You cave.
….or the lights are off and you think she’s sleeping, only to find that she is staying up late texting her friends, or having a fight with her boyfriend.
Because of our teens over packed schedules, everything gets pushed back. When this happens night after night, the result is sleep deprivation.
Your daughter is not going to cut out her social life.
You know when your daughter is sleep deprived because her reactions get amplified.
Yelling, slamming doors, and big meltdowns happen become the norm.
Constant sleep deprivation leads to mood swings, irritability and depression. This is because sleep deprivation decreases serotonin, the “feel-good” chemical, and increases the stress hormone cortisol, which increases mood volatility.
One study found that teenagers who routinely go to bed after midnight were 24% more likely to be depressed than teens who hit the pillow at 10 or earlier.
A lack of sleep affects school performance. It impairs the functioning memory, witnessed by your daughter forgetting her assignments, or not being able to retain what she read. It’s hard to focus, reason, learn, create, or perform when you are sleep deprived.
Sleep deprivation can be dangerous. You don’t want your daughter driving when she is that exhausted.
Changed sleep patterns
This is exacerbated by big changes in sleep patterns brought on by puberty. Have you noticed that your daughter is wide awake at 11pm when you are struggling to keep your eyes open? Well you are not the only one. The timing of the sleep/wake cycle shifts for teens. Though scientists are not exactly sure, the brain secretes the hormone melatonin later in teens than adults, so that teens are wide awake late at night and groggy in the morning when they have a math test.
Because of packed schedules and the shift in their sleep cycle, it’s no surprise that the average teen gets only six or seven hours of sleep a night.
The problem is that they need nine to ten hours of sleep, because their brains are in the process of a huge growth spurt.
They need a lot of sleep for the brain to regenerate and operate at peak efficiency. While your daughter is sleeping her brain is working and very busy. Her brain is sorting out and processing all the neural connections built up during the day.
Because of this, getting enough sleep should be a top priority.
- The calm down hour. Your daughter needs to unplug from electronics an hour before bed. This includes cell phones, video games, TV, and chatting on the computer. Scientists have found that ‘pulsed microwave radiation” from cell phones causes the brain to switch to alpha waves which is not conducive to sleep. Have her try quieter activities like reading a book, listening to relaxing music, or journaling before bed.
- Monitor the cell phone and computer…especially for young teens. I have found many parents of middle school girls shocked that their daughters were texting their friends all night long.
- Eliminate caffeine and sugar beverages at night. It takes 3-5 hours to get rid of half of the effects of caffeine and 14 hours to process all of it. Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, and are quite popular with sleep deprived teens. This causes a vicious cycle. The energy drinks make it difficult for the teen to go to sleep and adds to sleep deprivation.
- Sleeping in. It’s good for your daughter to catch up on her sleep by sleeping in on the weekend but you don’t want her sleeping into the afternoon.
- Educate your daughter. Help her connect the dots. The reason she is so emotional and forgetting assignments at school is because of sleep deprivation. Tell her about all the positive benefits of a full night’s sleep.
- Create a schedule that includes her social life. Help her think through her assignments and how long each one will take. And….. help her schedule her social time. Let her know that you care about her social life and you know that it’s important. Tell her you are on her side and you want to figure out how she can talk to her friends and get enough sleep.