Your circadian rhythm determines when you feel most awake and most tired during a 24-hour period. This rhythm works alongside your body’s sleep/wake homeostasis, which is what tells you to go to bed. Before your teen hit puberty, their internal clock set bedtime around 8 or 9 p.m., but as their body changed, their circadian rhythm shifted, causing them to feel more alert later in the night. Typically, teens start to feel sleepy after 11 p.m. or later.
Poor Sleep, Bad Grades
A study published in 2009 by the Journal of School Health revealed that over 90 percent of teenagers reported inadequate amounts of sleep, less than nine hours a night. Couple this with the early start times of most schools in the United States and you have a ton of tired teens struggling to get through their school days.
The University of California Berkeley published a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health that looked at the sleep habits of 2700 teens and discovered not only were 30 percent of the students staying up past 11:30 p.m., but this group was also behind in academic and emotional development when compared to teens who got to bed early.
Sleep Tips for Teens
Get ahead of the game by implementing some (or all!) of these sleep tips into your teen’s routine:
- Watch how late they’re staying up on the weekends—if they’re not falling asleep until the wee hours of the night, it’ll be more difficult for them to switch back to a school schedule on Monday.
- Set a bedtime! Even if it’s at 11 p.m., your teenager will get the message that getting to sleep at a certain time and getting enough sleep is critical.
- Start turning off some lights around the house an hour or two before bed.
- Set a rule that all electronics must be powered down or put away at least one hour before bed, unless they are needed for homework. It’s best if they are able to put away the books and have some time to relax before bed.
- Have your teen prep for the morning the night before: Pick out clothes, get their backpack ready, make sure lunch is ready to go, decide on breakfast, etc. Anything to make the morning smoother.
- Keep caffeine limited. There are a lot of products on the market that contain caffeine—there’s even a new caffeinated gum from Wrigley.
- Try chamomile tea or ; lavender essential oil both are known to help with relaxation.
- Aim for complete darkness in their bedroom—even small lights, like an alarm clock, can disrupt sleep, so turn your teen’s toward the wall.
- Stress can make falling asleep difficult; chiropractic adjustments in the area of the spine that controls the parasympathetic nervous system (known as your “rest and digest” system) can help decrease the effects of stress.