Teen sleeping difficulties and the need to be up for school

(16 Posts)

My 13 year old son has always been a really good sleeper and got up with no problems.

However, just over the last couple of weeks he seems to be finding it hard to get to sleep and therefore, although he gets up when asked, he is really tired and grumpy. I am leaving him until the last possible moment in the morning (about 7.45) but he has been awake until gone midnight despite being up in bed by 10 with lights out between 10 and 10.30 at the latest.

I am sure it's just teen sleeping changes, he has non screen chill out /reading time and a warm milky drink before bed and I am fairly sure that he doesn't have more worries than usual, he just can't seem to get to sleep and therefore is tired. At the weekend obviously it doesn't matter as much, and he naturally seems to wake at 8.15/8.30 so isn't needing much longer in the mornings during weekdays i dont think. Is there a solution?

We need to leave at 8.30 for school so really cant afford to leave him any longer in the morning.

chocoluvva Fri 27-Sep-13 15:17:26

Does he get enough physical activity? (sorry if irrelevant)

chocco - he could probably do with more, but he doesn't find it any easier after swimming or judo than he does on evenings where he doesn't have activities so I'm not sure if that is the only reason.

chocoluvva Fri 27-Sep-13 17:27:50

My DD can't get to sleep till after midnight either apparently. I actually think she'd sleep at 9pm if she settled down in bed without her phone but only sad people go to bed at 9pm or something!

I think she gets her second wind at about 10pm. This happens to me too, but I go to bed early and fall asleep.

I'm not sure if that's helpful.

Does your DS mind the fact that he doesn't drop off till late?

Hi choco, he can't get to bed any earlier most nights as he is out doing activities - Scouts, Swimming, Judo etc. so maybe he is missing that earlier sleepy time.

Yes, he does mind, he is moaning about it and doesn't like being tired in the morning but says that he simply isn't tired at bedtime. I think that is a developmental thing with teen brains. In the caveman days, maybe they had to stay up to mind the cave until the hunters came home or something grin

PigletJohn Fri 27-Sep-13 18:51:21

It's possible that getting up earlier in the morning, habitually, will reset the bodyclock to be earlier. A clock radio might help. Has to be loud and where the snooze button can't be reached without getting out of bed.

chocoluvva Fri 27-Sep-13 19:05:33

The point in the day when they start making melatonin - which makes you feel sleepy - comes later in the day for teenagers.

Perhaps he needs longer to unwind too.

Not something you can do much about, but IIRC physical exercise has a stimulating effect for a few hours.

Ideally he'd do his judo and swimming straight after school I suppose.

Sorry, not much help. It's a real problem for my 16YO too.

Actually, I've just thought - could he swim before school?

Piglet - he usually gets up at the first shout - though today it was the second, but is just so tired and grumpy. It may be worth a try though - maybe wait for the holiday week grin

Choco, not much I can do about the times of his activities. It's Life Guard training he is doing and that's the only time they do it - it technically finishes at 9 but after shower etc and drive home, it's usually about 20 to 10. with Judo we are usually home just before 9 and again there isn't an alternative class, and scouts finished at 9.15 so again we are home about 20 to 10. it never used to be an issue.

It is a shame for them, I'm such a soft touch.

It is genuinely harder for teenagers. Research in the US has shown they they perform better if allowed to start school later.
It makes it worse that they sleep until lunchtime on a weekend.

cluttered Fri 27-Sep-13 20:20:26

My DS1 had this problem off and on for a year aged 12-13. He would go to bed at 9, read until 10 then lights off but once or twice a week would come out at 11.30 or so saying he couldn't sleep. He has to get up at 6.30 for school so was tired the next day.

However he has come through it now. What helped was keeping a strict no screens after 9pm policy, reading before going to bed and not sleeping in until all hours at the weekend (getting up at 8am or so even on Sundays).

Also, you may not want to do this, but if he couldn't sleep by midnight or so I gave him a single Nytol tablet (of the 2 per night variety). Although it says not for under 16, the only active ingredient is diphenhydramine hydrochloride, 25 mg in one tablet, which is the same antihistamine in Benilyn dry cough medicine which is permitted for over 12s. 2 spoonful of Beninlyn which is recommended for over 12s contains 28 mg of this ingredient among other things so I couldn't see how it would hurt. This tablet helps me when I suffer from insomnia and crucially once he knew he could have something to make him sleepy once it got too late he would stop worrying about being tired and would usually drop off before needing it.

I told DS it's probably good to have an experience of insomnia early on to know it's not the end of the world being a bit tired the next day, my first ever episode was before a major external school exam and I became absolutely hysterical as I had never experienced it before and performed comparatively badly in that exam compared to the others.

PigletJohn Fri 27-Sep-13 20:26:13

Those SAD lamps - could they help with setting his "morning" bodyclock?

Thank you for all the ideas and comments, I'll certainly try some of those out. smile

sashh Sat 28-Sep-13 09:30:11

Is there a solution?

Time.

I have always got up early and been a morning person, apart from 2-3 years as a teenager.

It's normal for teenagers to fall asleep later and wake up later. As others have said it's a stage and they improve by 17 or so. It's not a disorder and I really don't think drugging them or suggesting that normal teenage sleep patterns constitute insomnia is healthy.
DS2(15) was always an early bird and it all changed when he was 13. He goes to bed with lights out at 9.30 on a school night but he still struggles in the morning. DS1(17) can now manage on 7 hours sleep. Still grumpy in the morning though wink.

BackforGood Sat 28-Sep-13 21:07:44

Good post from secretscwirrels


<holds on to hope tha ds might start getting up in the mornings anytime soon then, as he's already 17 wink >

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Sun 29-Sep-13 06:46:58

My DD is exactly the same. I try to let her lie in as much as possible at the weekends because she works hard all week with school and homework so I reckon she needs it.

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