3 min read

Got Sleepy Teens?

If your sparky, full of energy kids have suddenly started to drag their feet around the house and are barely able to articulate a sentence before midday, don’t despair, it’s perfectly normal.  In fact the leap into adolescence is accompanied by a re-calibration of something called Circadian Rhythms…which can make said ‘leap’ more like a slow shuffle and a yawn.

So, what’s a Circadian Rhythm?  Well, roughly speaking, it’s your teenager’s internal body clock.  Consequences of this re-set include an increased need for sleep; in fact experts say teenagers need nine hours sleep each night, perhaps even more.

Another consequence is a shift in sleeping patterns; teenagers will be driven to go to bed later and get up later, which goes entirely against established activity patterns such as school, homework and sports.

This new found sleepiness teen’s encounter can lead them to start taking caffeine and energy drinks; neither of which is beneficial in excess.  Video games, television, loud music and screen-time also contribute to the rest imbalance many teens feel.

The overall result can be an inability to concentrate, mood swings, headaches, forgetfulness, stress and depression.

So, how do you get your teenager back on track?  Carya’s teen expert Gail Smillie makes some recommendations:

Many parents don’t think their teenage kids should be allowed to nap during the day but that’s like depriving them of food when they’re hungry.  Teenagers should be able to nap if they’re tired and they shouldn’t be reprimanded for that.  Sleep is good for the developing brain, for well-being, mood and overall health. 

“Routines can help too and you should encourage your kids to ‘unplug’ from their devices early in the evening, take a bath, read a book and just unwind for a better night’s sleep.  While you can’t work against the body’s natural internal rhythms, you can establish better routines to support them.

“Most importantly it’s vital that parents, caregivers and teachers understand the disruption the body clock is undergoing at this stage and learn to work with it and support teens to get through these tricky years of change.  Mostly teenagers aren’t being lazy or slovenly or disinterested as they’re often accused of, often they’re just tired.  Understandably.”

Find out more about the teenage brain at Carya’s Enspire Learning Series Event

Gail will be presenting Crazy by Design: Exploring the Adolescent Brain on February 4th at the Dutton Theatre, Central Library at 6.30pm.  Tickets cost $35 and are available here.