If you’re the parent of a teenager, you know it can be hard to drag them out of bed before lunchtime. Teenage bodies have a “delayed biological rhythm” and tend to prefer to go to bed later and sleep later in the morning.
A recent study by Gruber et al. published in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health journal showed that during the pandemic when students were home, teenagers slept longer and on a later schedule than they did pre-pandemic. The absence of after school activities allowed students to complete homework and school assignments more easily and the absence of the morning commute gave them additional time in the morning for sleep. Pre-pandemic, many teenagers did not get sufficient sleep due to the time demands of school, athletics, extracurriculars, homework and friends and family. While the pandemic has been stressful for most people on some level, the luxury of additional hours of sleep is one benefit that came from this trying time. On average, the teens’ sleep times shifted by about two hours later. Between this more natural sleep-arousal pattern and additional sleep, fewer teens needed to “catch up” on their sleep during the weekends as they were sufficiently rested. This new study shows that the extra sleep and different schedule helped teens cope with the stressors that come with a worldwide pandemic.
“Not sleeping enough and being overly stimulated before bedtime are poor habits that are modifiable. We can target these behaviours with preventative measures to reduce teens’ stress in the face of overwhelming situations like to COVID-19 pandemic,” says Gruber.
So the next time your teen sleeps late, think twice before rattling them awake. Their bodies operate on a different pattern than adults and the extra sleep can help them be more resilient in the face of life’s challenges.
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