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Teens ... Go to Sleep!

The bags under Lorelei’s eyes, her complaining and my frustration every morning, finally made me take a better look at how much sleep she was getting. With two older sisters, she goes to bed too late, but even so, she’d always been the kind of kid who could power through. Recently though, the exhaustion hit a whole new level. Embarrassingly it took me a while to realize why, but then it hit me … it’s the damn phone. She went to bed when I told her to, but she didn’t go to sleep because she up playing games or texting her friends.

I took the phone away at 8pm, with my favorite line, “It isn’t a punishment, it is parenting,” and our mornings are 10xs better. I should slap myself in the head for not figuring it out sooner. My other sleep deprived kid is my 14 year old. Her problem is not screen time as much as it is poor time management, but the effect is the same. Harried mornings, stress that is palpable and too frequent trips by me to the high school to deliver forgotten items have not convinced her more sleep is better. She won’t listen to me, but perhaps she will listen to the science.

Lack of sleep in teens and Tweens leads to:*

*These are listed in order of what adolescents will relate to most

  • Skin breakouts

  • Obesity

  • Decreased performance in school

  • Increased risk for substance abuse

  • Increased risk for depression and anxiety

  • Unhealthy personal relationships

  • Impaired judgement

  • Long term health problems

As nice as it would be if kids could catch up on sleep on the weekends — heaven knows teens could sleep in until dinner time if we would let them — it doesn’t work this way. Sleep needs to be consistent and adequate to prevent the side effects listed above. To my daughter, I’m going to focus on skin breakouts and obesity because sadly, I think these will resonate most. To strengthen my own resolve, so I can be tough with her sleep schedule, I am going to focus on the risks of addiction, depression and increased stress. She is in a competitive high school. The thought of the risk of these increasing for her is enough to keep ME awake at night.

For more on sleep and teens, read:

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About Dr. Karen Latimer

I’m a family physician now struggling to take care of a bunch of kids who keep calling me Mom. When I’m not wiping butts, refereeing sibling rivalry and chauffeuring over-scheduled little people, I write a family medical blog that gives you five thoughts on all sorts of different health topics.

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