When my boys were little, I couldn’t figure out any way to keep them in bed after 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning. Once they hit the tween years, however, they began sleeping in later and later in the morning. One year, it was hard to get them out of bed before 7 or 7:30. And over that summer, they began sleeping until 10 am if I let them.
What’s going on?!?
To my surprise, I learned that this behavior is completely natural. As young people approach and enter puberty, their circadian rhythms, or “body clocks” shift. This means that most teenagers are unable to fall asleep before 11 pm, even if they are laying in bed for hours.
Should we even be waking up our teenagers?
Combine this information with the fact that most teenagers need a minimum of 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep each night. If our kids are laying in bed for hours before they’re able to fall asleep, and then we wake them up at 6 or 7 in the morning, they may not be getting enough sleep to feel rested – or to function well throughout the day.
There are many negative effects associated with our teens not getting enough sleep, such as:
- Less alert
- Unable to think clearly
- Less able to remember or understand what they are being taught
- Poor grades
- Exhibit more ADHD symptoms
- Suicidal thoughts
Sleep deprivation can have serious side effects. In fact, you’re probably aware that it has been used as a method of torture for many years!
Our teenagers’ bodies and minds are changing rapidly. They need their sleep. Because of this, we should consider pushing back the time that we start schoolwork in the morning. Allow them to start their lessons later than their younger brothers and sisters. And once they do start, you might want to begin with a gentle activity such as listening to a read-aloud book or allowing them to listen to an audiobook while eating breakfast. This will allow your teen’s mind to become more alert without being jolted awake in the morning.
Either that or allow your child to do something physically active to get their mind up and running. My boys often enjoy working out before they do anything else!
Should we always let our teenagers sleep in?
So, what about those times when we need out teens to get out of bed earlier in the morning or when we are struggling to get them to wake up any time before noon, which just isn’t practical on a daily basis.
Here are 7 Quick Tips for Getting Your Teenager to Wake Up in the Morning:
1 – Be careful about caffeine
Many teens rely on caffeine and/or sugar to wake themselves up and give them energy when they feel themselves dragging. The problem with using these substances to “wake up” is that the effects are fleeting and can leave the person feeling even worse after they wear off. Also, consuming caffeine after noon can interfere with a person’s sleep patterns, making their daytime sleepiness even worse.
2 – Vigorous Exercise
Be sure your child gets some vigorous physical exercise during the day. The more physically tired they are when it’s time for bed, the easier it will be for them to fall asleep without as much delay.
3 – Supplements
There are some natural supplements which can help a person to fall asleep more easily. Melatonin, Magnesium, chamomile tea, even a glass of warm milk can help your child to feel more drowsy and ready to go to sleep. I’ve been struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep for the last few years and Valerian Root has helped me to stay asleep more consistently.
4 – Regular Bedtimes
Try to have your teen go to bed and wake up at the same time every day including weekends. This regular schedule helps our bodies to be more prepared for falling asleep at the desired time than if bedtimes change drastically from night to night.
5 – Wind Down at Night
Be sure to give your teen time to wind down at night. A warm shower or bath with Epsom Salts works wonders. Also, consider having your child read a relaxing book before bed versus watching an exciting show on TV or playing an action-packed video game.
6 – Adjust the lighting
Try dimming the lights at night or closing the shades. Also, turn on bright lights in the morning. These simple cues will help your child’s body to get the signal that it’s time to go to sleep or time to wake up.
7 – Give them something to look forward to
I’m sure you’ve noticed that if your child is going to do something exciting that day, they wake up fairly willingly. If your teen knows that he needs to start his schoolwork immediately upon waking up, you’ll have a harder time prying him out of bed than if he knows he has half an hour of free time before he needs to get started. Try to give him something exciting that will happen after he gets up even if that just means making him his favorite breakfast or letting him play a few minutes of his favorite app. 🙂
Getting teenagers to wake up in the morning can be difficult. But remember, this too shall pass. Once your teen makes it through this stage of life, he will naturally begin to wake up earlier again. Hopefully, knowing why he is having such a hard time waking up, and realizing that it’s normal, will make things a little bit easier to deal with in the mornings.
QUESTION: Do you struggle with getting your kids out of bed in the morning? Have you discovered any helpful tips that you could share with us? Please leave a comment below.