"Tyler, get up now!" Maryann jostled her 12-year-old several times before he stumbled toward the shower. Getting him to bed at night was a struggle. Waking him in the morning was a battle.

Sleep deprivation studies show that lack of sleep affects grades, motivation, behaviour, health and emotions.

Causes of sleep deprivation

  • Fast-paced lifestyle – It’s a world on the move, and for many, resting is synonymous with laziness. Find ways to incorporate slower-paced activities into your child’s lifestyle. Stress the importance of leisure, and teach your tween to say no to some activities.
  • Abnormal breathing – Sleep apnea and other breathing abnormalities can disturb sleep. If your child is overweight, chances are greater for night-time breathing problems. If your tween stops breathing or snores and then makes no sound before finally sputtering to take a breath, this could indicate apnea. Talk to your physician.
  • Not enough sleep time – Tweens and teens need 8.5 to 9.25 hours per night, depending on their bodies.

Steps to better sleep

  • Limit audio and video overload – Loud music and stimulation from computer use and video games can rev up the senses, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Encourage activities like reading or drawing to help wind down.
  • Cut out stimulants – Caffeine and sugar are sleep barriers. Sometimes these stimulants hide in unexpected foods. Check labels.
  • Heed sleep signals – Often, tweens ignore body signals that indicate the need for sleep. A drop in body temperature, which may manifest itself by a slight shiver or the need to grab a blanket, indicates the body is slowing down for sleep. If tweens fight off sleep indicators by engaging in physical activity or consuming a stimulant, sleepiness may not return for hours.
From Focus on Your Child’s Tween Ages, January 2007. Published by Focus on the Family. © 2007 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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