There is one common problem all the teenagers face today- sleep deprivation. Everyone would love to blame it on the television, media obsession, and social networks. But are they really to blame for the lack of sleep in the teens? No, blame it all on the puberty period. Yes, puberty plays a major role in reducing the sleeping time in teenagers.
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One of the changes (that most of us do not know) that happens in the teen’s body is the resetting of their biological clock. The biological clock determines when to feel sleepy and when to wake up. The resetting that happens in the teen’s body delays the onset of sleep by a good 1-2 hours. So the person who usually starts feel sleepy at 9 or 10 will now have to wait till 11 or 12 to feel sleepy. No matter how early he/she hit the bed, they stay wide awake all the while.
The studies, schedules, media, mobiles all add to this problem. The already delayed sleep will have to wait until all the assignments of the day are finished. Then it is time for chatting with their buddies. With their busy schedules it is natural for the teen to put their sleep the least important factor. They realize its importance only when they fall asleep all of a sudden during day time.
Sleep for teenagers
Teenagers have high potential and energy within them but all those are wasted with lack of enough sleep. Sleep helps them calm their body and mind and wake up fresh in the morning. But often do we see them waking up cheerful? Waking the teen in the morning can be the most difficult job in the world.
Sleep resets their memory and store what is needed and discard the unwanted details. There are 4 stages of sleep and the teens get only 2-3 of them which upset their biological clock which is already struggling to cope up. They will struggle and compete with their life for sleep. This can affect their health tremendously, unknown to them.
Struggle for sleep
The sleep deprived teens will have to fight the world and with their own life to get enough sleep. By the time they get back from school, they have numerous assignments, home works, some have jobs, looking after their younger ones etc. All these are stressful for them and they find the outlet in the form of video games, chatting, social media etc. These outlets will only make them more alert to be sleepy. The delayed sleep will be more delayed. Then, they have to get up early. They doze off in the class, while driving-which is dangerous and anytime.
What does it lead to?
The sleep deprivation is the main reason for many behavioral problems in teenagers. The sudden mood swings, emotions, hyperactivity, anxiety, nervousness, aggression, concentration issues, low grades in school etc are the result of sleep deprivation also. If the child shows these symptoms frequently, do not blame him/her without knowing the facts. Sleep could be the hidden reason for these.
What can parents do?
Parents can influence their kids to stick to a healthy schedule. Never try to overpower or over control them. They need their freedom but you should have the reins with you. Not that anyone has much control over the teens; there are instances where you have to step in, even if it is unfavorable to them.
- Gadgets: Teens spend more time with their chat schedules, the parents will have to step in to reduce the time they spend on the gadgets.
- Meals: Parents can make the home feel good, with calmer environment. Teens will have huge appetite while returning from school, so let them have a proper meal at that time. Later in the night they can have a lighter meal. A heavy meal right before bed can prevent sleep further.
- Dim light can trick the biological clock of anyone. Using dim light in their room will help them fall asleep earlier. Let them study under a table lamp and keep the room darker. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.
- Let them relax: Do not pressurize them to study, even if the exams are nearer. They must have some relaxing time and let them choose what it is.
Parents must also look for any signs that whether sleep deprivation is driving them too far and if they need some help. After it is parents’ duty to direct them to the right way to help them lead a healthy and better life.
I finished my masters in finance and worked for the Largest Private sector banking company in India. When the time came, I moved on to something less demanding and more creative. The influence of Indian culture asks us to put satisfaction upfront and I was in search of it. Writing struck me as a possibility and soon a passion. I am not creative but I am very thorough. Technical writing is my forte and at times I do delve into the creative side, though the stint usually lasts not more than a day! I enjoy traveling, reading and shopping.