How many hours of sleep is your young adolescent averaging per night? While many parents are under the impression that younger children need more sleep than teenagers, recent studies recommend that teens should get at least nine hours of sleep a night. In fact, research from Columbia University Medical Center found a correlation between sleep and depression. Teenagers who reported that they “usually get enough sleep” were 65% less likely to be depressed. This news may in fact be somewhat “depressing” for most parents who find getting their teen to bed at a reasonable hour a constant struggle!
Many 10- to 15-year-olds find it hard to get to sleep at night. Research isn’t definitive yet as to why, but it seems to have a lot to do with the changing hormones in a young adolescent’s body. It isn’t that they aren’t tired; it’s just that they can’t shut down their minds. They lie awake and worry, review unpleasant conversations, imagine “I’ll show them” scenarios, listen to songs over and over in their heads, and toss and turn.
Some kids this age like to sleep with the radio on, with their earphones on, or in a room with something that makes “white noise” like a fan or humidifier or air conditioning unit. They use these devices to help shut out the noise in their heads so that they can get to sleep.
Others simply stay up. They read, watch TV, play games on their computers and–parents and guardians beware–talk on the phone, e-mail their friends, or surf the Internet.
While understanding that it takes a while to get sleepy, a good rule is no phone or computer after, say, 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. Communicating with friends or searching the Internet does not make kids drowsy or help them get to sleep. Instead, they stimulate the already-overloaded mind and make sleep even harder to come by.
No matter what time a child falls asleep, each must answer the morning wake up call for school. This is particularly painful after a short night. If your child has trouble falling asleep at night, let them know that this is normal for the age, so they don’t add sleeplessness to their list of worries. Work with your child to find out what actually makes them sleepy (Hot shower? Warm milk? Being read to? Soft music playing?), and try to accommodate.
Like other traits of this age, this “insomnia” will pass and kids will survive. You can be sympathetic with their plight, but be careful not to make unnecessary allowances (going late to school, for instance, or late-night chats with friends). Sleep gets easier as young people age; then parents and guardians might also manage a bit of rest.
To read the complete article “Late-night teens ‘face greater depression risk’”: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8435955.stm
Nancy A. Remondi