Many students here in Buffalo and Western NY have already returned to school and some will return next week, parents will begin that all too familiar fight in the morning of rousing the sleeping. But is there science behind their need for more sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic yes there is a scientific explanation, not that children are pushing the boundaries of the rules.
Some of us as adults simply know when to get up and don’t need an alarm clock, that’s our internal clock talking to us. According to the Mayo Clinic:
The biological and psychological processes that follow the cycle of this 24-hour internal clock are called circadian rhythms. Before adolescence, these circadian rhythms direct most children to naturally fall asleep around 8 or 9 p.m. But puberty changes a teen’s internal clock, delaying the time he or she starts feeling sleepy — often until 11 p.m. or later.
It seems that this works for many teens, especially if they participate in extra-curricular activities, but by the time they get home and eat dinner and finish their homework it could be 10 or 11 at night. Seems right then that their natural internal clock is telling them to go sleep then, not necessarily says many researchers. Many teens actually need at least 9 hours of sleep, sometimes more, but few teens actually get enough sleep. There are many factors that that play into whether or not teens get enough sleep, that being part-time jobs, early-morning classes, homework, extracurricular activities, social demands, and use of computers and other electronic gadgets.
Parents have you noticed that it seems your child has mood swings when they are tired? If your child isn’t getting enough sleep then those mood swings could be a direct result. There is more, sleep deprivation can have serious consequences, such as difficultly concentrating and learning, staying awake in class, and cause behavioral problems.
So as the school year approaches those early start times of many local Buffalo schools can be concerning for parents. WNY parents and students do have those exact concerns. One parent tells me that her son must now be up and at the bus stop at 6:45 am. If her child goes to bed at 11:00 and is up at 6am he is only getting 7 of the 9 recommended hours of sleep.
So parents here in WNY and beyond what can you do? Reset their internal clock and the Mayo Clinic gives these tips:
Adjust the lighting.As bedtime approaches, dim the lights. Then turn off the lights during sleep. In the morning, expose your teen to bright light. These simple cues can help signal when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up.
Stick to a schedule.Tough as it may be, encourage your teen to go to bed and get up at the same time every day — even on weekends. Prioritize extracurricular activities and curb late-night social time as needed. If your teen has a job, limit working hours to no more than 16 to 20 hours a week.
Nix long naps.If your teen is drowsy during the day, a 30-minute nap after school might be refreshing. Be cautious, though. Too much daytime shut-eye might only make it harder to fall asleep at night.
Curb the caffeine.A jolt of caffeine might help your teen stay awake during class, but the effects are fleeting — and too much caffeine can interfere with a good night’s sleep.
Keep it calm.Encourage your teen to wind down at night with a warm shower, a book or other relaxing activities. Discourage stimulating activities — including vigorous exercise, loud music, video games, television, computer use and text messaging — an hour or two before bedtime.
Know when to unplug.Take the TV out of your teen’s room, or keep it off at night. The same goes for your teen’s cellphone, computer and other electronic gadgets.
So parents use caution when your child sleeps in on the weekends, or when they are tired and moody throughout the day sending them to bed may not be the best option. Ensuring you child is getting enough sleep can be strongest part of the foundation in your preparation of starting the new school year.
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