As a parent of a teenager, I love this time of year.  School starts!  Teenagers have a good reason to get out of bed early.  But this could mean, more stress on you as a parent, because many teenagers have a hard time going to sleep early enough to get sufficient sleep for school the next day.   It is like a dream for a teenager to wake up happy and rested, ready to go to school.  We, as parents, could stop accepting that mornings have to be difficult.  Dr. Judith Owens, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital described, “Six ways to set healthy sleep habits in kids”.

  1. Be Strict about bedtime (and set an alarm).
  2. According to the Cleveland Clinic, sleep routines “help kids thrive”.  The research states, “Your child’s bed time and wake time should be about the same every day of the week”.   Establish that night time routine, so that you don’t necessarily have to be the “bad guy” in the morning.

  3. Keep sleep in mind throughout the day.
  4. Maintaining a consistent bedtime requires vigilance. Parents have to be mindful about what their kids are eating, drinking and doing before bedtime.  “Healthy sleepers avoid energy drinks, soda and coffee after 1 pm”.  The article also stated that electronic devices should be shut off at least an hour before bedtime.

  5. Limit activity levels before bed.
  6. According to sleep experts, it’s important for kids to release their excess energy in the early evening so it won’t interfere with sleep.

  7. Create a bedroom sanctuary.
  8. The National Sleep Foundation suggests making a child’s bedroom “dark, cool and quiet” for sleep.  And, keeping electronics, like Phones, TV’s and computers elsewhere.  A bedroom is for sleeping and resting.

  9. Be open about sleep goals.
  10. It is natural for kids to resist bedtime, especially when older siblings stay up later.  It is also quite normal for most teens to want to stay up later in the evening.  The National Sleep Foundation suggests 8-10 hours of sleep per night for teens age 14-17, slightly less than the 9-11 hours for schoolchildren age 6 to 13.

  11. Set a good example.
  12. Parents hoping to raise healthy sleepers need to lead by example.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults age 26 to 64.  “If you practice good sleep habits, so will your kids”.

Dr. Judith Owens, Director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital, “Sleep Loss at Any Age is Serious Business”.
photo by alex