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Sleepy Son

Mark-

My 13-year-old son seems tired all the time. He doesn’t sleep well at night for one thing. Any suggestions?

T.Y.

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Hi T.,

If you have a tired teen, have them read about teens and sleep on a page just for teens.

Print out Awake at the Wheel-it's an interactive brochure for teens-and discuss it with them.

Take a look at these pointers for parents on teens and sleep from the National Sleep Foundation.

The National Sleep Foundation Teens and Sleep homepage has many more great resources.

Here are some "Do’s and Don’ts":

DO:

Keep to a regular daily routine—the same waking time, meal times, etc.

Make sure your kids have interesting and varied activities during the day, including physical activity and fresh air.

Use a simple, regular bedtime routine. It should not last too long and should take place primarily in the room where the child will sleep. It may include a few simple, quiet activities, such as a light snack, shower, saying goodnight, etc. The kinds of activities in the routine will depend on the child’s age.

Use light to your advantage. Keep lights dim in the evening as bedtime approaches. In the morning, get your child into bright light, and, if possible, take them outside. Light helps signal the brain into the right sleep-wake cycle.

DON’T:

Don’t fill up your child’s room with video games, computers, toys, etc. It’s probably best to keep your child’s bedroom a place to sleep, rather than a place to play.

Don’t give your child foods and drinks with caffeine in them, like hot chocolate, tea, cola, chocolate, etc. Even caffeine earlier in the day could disrupt your child’s sleep cycle.

Don't let your child watch more than one to two hours of TV during the day, and don't let them watch TV at bedtime at all. TV viewing at bedtime has been linked to poor sleep.

If your child has a TV set in their bedroom, remove it. Research shows watching TV is linked to sleep problems, especially if the TV set is in the child’s bedroom. The presence of other media, such as a computer, video games or Internet in a kid’s bedroom is also associated with worse sleep.

Never use sending your child to bed as a threat. Bedtime needs to be a secure, loving time, not a punishment. Your goal is to teach your kids that bedtime is enjoyable, just as it is for us adults. If the feeling around bedtime is a good feeling, your child will fall asleep easier.

Mark


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