I vividly remember, after hours of rocking, crawling into the crib with my little one. The plan was cuddling then quietly slipping away. Inevitably, I woke up in the crib with a sore back and a smiling baby. Back then, I would do almost anything to help her fall and stay asleep. Now 16 years later, I am doing it again.
We had a long period of sleeping bliss. From about 3 – 13 years old, sleep was not an issue. Occasionally, she called me out a bed with a “mommy I threw up” or “mommy I had a bad dream.” For the most part, we all slept peacefully through the night.
With a teenager, sleep is once again an issue. Teenagers naturally feel more alert at night, making it difficult for them to fall asleep. Plus, her day begins with a 6:40 am with a bus ride to school followed by classes, homework and other activities. With all of this, the recommended 9 hours of sleep is nonexistent. It is a good night if she is in bed by midnight.
While we cannot do much about school or homework, we are looking at some of the other activities. One of the activities that jumps out us is screen time. While I would like to think every time her phone dings it is a text about a group project in Chemistry, often the ding is a friend wanting to chat late at night.
Trying to rein in screen time is not easy. Teens need their tablets and computers to access online textbooks and collaborate on group projects. It is hard to separate out class work from chatting about an upcoming dance. The challenge is limiting screen time so she focuses on her homework and can put the phone and the computer away earlier. Here are few tips, we are trying to help our teenager set an earlier bedtime.
- Buy an alarm clock – Instead of using a phone as an alarm clock, teens should use an actually clock. Keeping the phone out of the bedroom will help them have a more restful sleep.
- Set a bedtime for devices – Everyone sleeps better if they have at least a 30-minute break before bed. This gives the body time to relax and get ready for bed. Families should keep all chargers in one area and set a bedtime for all devices.
- Make time to exercise –Exercise is a great way to take a break from the screen and get moving. Tired teens are sleepy teens.
- Watch your own screen habits - The best way to instill good digital habits in your teen is by showing them. I am guilty of staying up late working on my computer. My computer and phone are leading the way and going to bed by 10.
If a teen is really struggling with screen time and sleep, parents may want to look at other ways to manage technology. Familoop Safeguard can help by setting time limits on all devices and I have more screen time tips for all ages on KidsPrivacy.