There is an amusing saying in mommyhood, “Rather than sleep like a baby, sleep like a dad.” Any mom who has been woken up countless times by a crying or sick child while her hubby slumbers on, gets this. However, I would add to this,” sleep like a teenager”. Teenagers sleep like they mean it. They sleep hard. Nowadays even on a blissful schedule free Sunday, I am wide awake at 6:00 AM and how I long for those deep, heavy, endless slumbers of youth.
Teenagers can sleep like it is their job. And in a way, it is Rather than to assume that they are lazy or depressed, the truth is, biologically, teenagers need more sleep. They are at an important stage of growth and development when all the growing process is in the home stretch of reaching completion. There is still enormous little changes happening in their bodies and brains every day and this requires the body to rest from all that work.
Experts say that teenagers need at least eight to ten hours of sleep a night. Ideally, teens need a consistent habit of a solid night’s sleep to consolidate their learning. The old adage of of “in one ear and out the other” is especially true when kids are sleep deprived in that missed sleep can affect short term memory loss. Sleep basically helps the brain retain what it has learned and process it into long term memory.
In 2014, a study done by The American Academy of Pediatrics said that insufficient sleep in adolescents is an increasingly important health issue and affects their academic success and mental and emotional well being.They even found that standardized test scores improve, and car accidents decrease in kids who are better rested. Their recommendation was that students start school no earlier than 8:30 AM.
Moving bedtimes earlier isn’t necessarily going to fix the problem either, in that due to the delayed release of melatonin in teenage developing brains, and a lack of “sleep drive” they do not feel sleepy until much later than younger children or adults.
The trick for parents in dealing with their teenagers sleeping in on the weekends far past what seems like a full day has passed, is to be patient and understanding. Give those brains and bodies a chance to grow and catch up and retain all the information and stimulus that they are taking in. Gaze in at your sleeping little log, remember the day when it was nap time in the crib that you were gazing at and honor the process and wonder of their growth.