I’m bringing up teen sleeping habits because I hear parents express concern over this in my therapy office all the time. I have to admit, how well and how consistently your adolescent sleeps is a really big deal.
Good sleep has very strong links to happiness, immune functioning, ability to perform in school, memory, safe driving, and the list goes on.
Teenagers are notorious for foregoing sleep in order to complete homework assignments, text their friends, play video games, and watch Netflix. However, none of these are a good excuse not to get about eight hours of sleep per night. If your teen is occasionally staying up late to finish an assignment that’s one thing, but if they do this night after night, this is a problem.
Adolescents still need a hard and fast bedtime. It has to be a deadline that you enforce. It’s essential for their health and well-being. If they have trouble waking up in the morning for school then it means they aren’t sleeping enough. That’s their body telling them to get to bed earlier.
There’s a good chance if your teen has poor sleep habits you do too. Get yourself on a good sleep schedule, and stop watching late night TV. Your sleep is absolutely more important! You will be more productive at work, nicer to your family, a more enjoyable friend, and you will quite possibly shed those few extra pounds that have been nagging at you. People who sleep well actually crave healthier foods and exercise more easily (they are more energized).
On the other hand, if your worries about your teenager’s sleep come from the other side of the spectrum, there are different concerns. If your teen naps often, and then also sleeps eight plus hours per night, then I have a different set of concerns. Excessive sleep is a symptom, but there are many differing problems that cause hypersomnia in adolescents. Here are a few: depression, drug use, endocrine issues, and physical illness. It’s very important to talk with your doctor in this situation. Your doctor might recommend psychiatry or therapy, but your doctor might also catch something else that’s wrong. In any case, for your teenager to need a total of more than 10 hours of sleep per 24 hour stretch warrants a conversation with a doctor.
Once you get the family back on a good sleeping schedule, everyone’s life will be better, and everyone in your household will be happier.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT