As kids move into the teen years there is a distinct change in their sleeping patterns. As any parent of a teenager knows, trying to wake a sleeping adolescent can be, to put it mildly, difficult. They are often grumpy and monosyllabic until later in the day. It can also be as much of a struggle to get your teen to go to bed at night, what with homework, instant messaging, email and general late-night wakefulness.
On the weekends, the door to the 'Bat Cave' remains shut for half the day while everyone else in the family, up for hours, goes about their business.
Should you be concerned about this antisocial rite of passage?
Is there something more to your adolescent's sleep habits? Relax. There is good news. Landmark studies into the adolescent brain have revealed that the contrariness of a teen's biorhythms are in fact just what nature intended.
According to Dr Jay Giedd, Chief of Brain Imaging at the Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA, daytime sleepiness and late-night alertness are the result of a shift in the sleep/wake cycle as growth hormones kick into high gear.
During the night, growth hormone is released during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) or "dream sleep," which takes place at the end of each sleep cycle. One of the things parents begin to notice is the kid who used to jump out of bed bright as a button, now has to be woken and dragged out of bed to get to school on time.
Importantly, it's not just your teen's shoe size that's getting bigger. His or her brain is also growing. One study, indicates that there is a second wave of brain growth, particularly in the prefrontal cortex or "thinking" part of the brain, which continues into the teen years and even into the 20s.
During this time, new brain cells and neural connections or "wires" which connect the right and left sides of the brain and are critical to intelligence, self-awareness and performance, grow like branches on a tree. Daytime stimulation, in the form of school and social interaction, gets "hard-wired" into the adolescent brain during the latter stages of sleep, including REM sleep.
Cut these sleep stages short and performance suffers the next day, "If you want to learn really well and to be really efficient in your learning, the best way to do it is to get a good night's sleep.
Most teens probably need about 9.5 hours of sleep, say experts, but the reality of a typical teen life – early morning soccer or swim practice, homework and perhaps a part-time job after school – means that most are lucky to get 7-1/2 hours. Chronic sleep deprivation can affect mood and make it difficult for a teen to perform or even react appropriately.
Tracy Tresidder M.Ed, ACC is a professional parent and teen coach. Parents - learn how to assist your children to build lives of confidence, courage and compassion. Discover the seven simple steps to create a mutually loving and respectful relationship with your teenager. Go to http://www.coaching4teenagers.com.au to see the programs that are available now. Tracy is also the lead instructor for the Academy for Family Coach Training in Australasia where you can train to become a certified parent and teen coach. The 10 month Advanced Coaching Course, held in Australia on an annual basis, is the only ICF accredited Parent and Teen Coach Training Course in the world to offer CCE certification. Visit the website for more course details. http://www.familycoachtraining.com