5 Things Interfering with Your Teen's Sleep

If your teen is tired in the mornings, her bad habits may be interfering with her sleep.
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Late nights of homework (or video games) and early mornings for school makes for a very tired teenager. Teens need around 9 hours a night, meaning a 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. bedtime is ideal, depending on what time he gets up on weekdays.

The teen brain, however, is wired to want to stay up later and sleep in. This dichotomy can lead to nights of too little sleep, building into a sleep deficit. That, in turn, can cause your teen to lack concentration and the ability to focus in school; can cause him to eat too much and skip physical activity; and potentially lead to emotional problems, such as depression.

Other than simply the inability to fall asleep, there are a number of habits your teen might have acquired that could interfere with his sleep. Here are the top five things that keep teens awake at night:

1. Smartphone Use

Even if your teen isn’t chatting on the phone all through the night, simply having that phone by her bedside can cause sleep issues. If a friend sends a text message at 1 a.m. and the phone isn’t silenced, the beeping or vibration could wake her up.

But, more likely, your teen is using her cellphone in bed, whether it’s to have a text message conversation or to surf the Internet. If she’s displaying signs of sleep deprivation, make it a house rule that all phones (even yours!) are placed in a specific area at night--outside the bedroom--to charge.

2. Television

This could be related to the cellphone problem, if your teen uses his phone or tablet to stream Netflix and Hulu before bed--or, in the old-fashioned sense, he might simply be staying up too late to watch TV or play video games.

Resist the urge to let your teen have a TV in his bedroom, no matter how much he begs. Even if he is able to fall asleep with the TV on, the light and sound it emits means he won’t sleep at deeply through the night--and that’s just as bad as staying up late.

3. Caffeinated Beverages

Does your teen love soda or energy drinks?

Does she indulge in a coffee drink every once in a while? That could definitely be interfering with a sufficient amount of shuteye. According to the National Sleep Foundation, caffeine enters the bloodstream and begins stimulation within 15 minutes of consumption and can stay in your system for up to 14 hours, leading to restless or nonexistent sleep. Your teen might ask for a soda at dinner, but instead encourage him to drink water or milk.

4. Stress

When your teen has a big test or a paper due--or simply is struggling in school or at an afterschool job--feeling stressed out keep her awake at night. Before she heads to bed, check in with your teen about how her schoolwork and other activities are going.

Ask her if she needs help with anything. Encourage her to make a to-do list, so she can get those tasks off her mind. If she’s really struggling, consider taking her on a fun outing--though not right before bed!--to help her get her mind off the stressful work.

5. Friends

Does your teen often stay over at a friend’s house or have friends come to your house?

Even if it’s just one night a week, that’s probably having an effect on your teen’s sleep habits. While you don’t want to discourage your child from having a robust social life, take each sleepover invitation one at a time. If it’s been a sleep-deprived week for your teen, consider suggesting another time for the friends to get together.

As a parent, you’re not unfamiliar with the negative effects of sleep deprivation--you’ve probably experienced them yourself! Work with your child to stop bad habits that lead to sleep interference, and perhaps the entire family can sleep a little more soundly.

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