How to Get Kids to Sleep
If Your Child Is a Night Owl
Here come the up-all-night years. More than 90 percent of teens aren’t getting their needed nine hours most nights of the week, said one study published in the Journal of School Health. “Once kids hit adolescence, their hours shift,” says Kunhardt. This is partly biology: A teenager’s circadian rhythms change and delay the time he starts to feel sleepy, often until 11 p.m. or later. If your teen can’t seem to drift off at a reasonable hour, first “make sure there’s no anxiety, depression, or other condition that could result in insomnia,” says Kunhardt. If he has too many after-school activities on his plate, see if he can drop one. Then encourage him to focus on homework earlier in the evening so he can chill out later. And is it a surprise that playing Call of Duty isn’t relaxing? Research has consistently shown that when kids watch TV, play video games, or use the computer just before their bedtime, it’s harder for them to fall asleep. So set a “tech time-out” alarm an hour before lights-out. He can make up an extra hour on the weekends, but don’t let him hibernate. “If your kid stays up past 2 a.m. and sleeps till 11 a.m. on Sunday, he has altered his clock by five hours,” says Rosen. “When his alarm goes off at 6 a.m. on Monday, it will be like trying to wake up in Boston on London time.” It’s also smart to skip soda and candy in the evening.
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So maybe you can’t change your health overnight. But you can get a head start.