As welcome as it is, the return of the sun can be a challenge for teenagers’ spring school schedules, summer activities and sleep health.
The returning evening light in spring pushes teens toward a schedule with late bedtimes and late awakenings. This is especially true when we jump an hour earlier with daylight savings time. Those teens who are “night owls” may have particular trouble with the change to daylight savings time. Finally, the lack of structured time in the summer can make it more difficult to keep healthy sleep schedules.
Parents of teens should know that some facts about sleep:
- Getting enough sleep makes the brain and body work better.
- Normal bedtime in teens is biologically delayed by an hour compared to younger children.
- Daily sleep need for each teen is different [typically 7-9 hours] and can be determined by the average daily sleep required during unstructured periods such as summer vacation.
- Bright light, electronic devices, and homework after normal bedtime are enemies of sleep.
- Daylight savings time and late evening sun in the spring and summer tend to cause a delay in bedtime and wakeup.
- As evening light increases, make sure you keep bedtime at no later than 10 or 11 p.m. with avoidance of bright lighting and heavy exercise two hours before bed.
- Encourage morning outside activity in the spring and summer to counter the tendency to sleep in.
- Set a curfew for electronic devices and lighting in the bedroom at natural sleep time such as 11 p.m. on weekdays.
- Engage your teenager in sleep health education by professionals.
- See your pediatrician, family doctor or a sleep specialist if sleepiness or sleep schedules are challenging or if sleepiness is interfering with safety, happiness, or school performance.
As a parent you are the ultimate counselor and example, even if you don’t always feel the listening of your teenager. And, of course, you are also the provider of transportation and electronic devices. If you feel you need further advice, contact Fairview Sleep Centers.