It’s common to hear parents comment on how their toddlers, no matter what time they get to bed, they’re up and at ‘em at 5am sharp. Parents become so used to this that through the years they come to rely on it. So when their teen starts sleeping in, it appears to be a factor of laziness. The truth, however, is far more interesting.
Teens Need Their Sleep
Sleep is vital for the growth of our children. They process what they’ve learned that day while the body triggers growth hormones to When a teen hits adolescence, their need for sleep increases. Unfortunately, both puberty and school can work against that, making it difficult for them to get the increased amount of sleep they need.
While as a child their circadian rhythm was set to go to sleep around 8o’clock or 9o’clock, once they hit puberty, their cycle shifts forward two hours. Your teen may view this as a chance to stay up to do homework or play games, but by not getting to bed on time, they’re depriving themselves of hours of much needed sleep every day with dangerous effects.
Sleep Deprivation and Depression
There is an undeniable link between sleep disorders and depression. There have been multiple studies that show with depression comes either insomnia, the inability to sleep, or hypersomnia, the constant need to sleep.
Often depression is viewed as the problem with trouble sleeping as merely a symptom, and it often goes unaddressed. Sleep however is vital to our mood, as the brain regulates experience, hormones, and brain chemistry. When the problem with sleep isn’t solved as its own problem, this exacerbates the situation as the lack of sleep can make the depression worse.
Your Teen and Depression
Adolescence is a rough time for teens and parents alike. With the hormones in full flux along with a child discovering what it is to be an adult, mood swings are not just common but expected. It can make things difficult if you suspect your teen may be depressed.
You should have a feel for what your child’s normal state is. If you notice changes in behavior, don’t be afraid to take notice.
Here are some signs that may tip off if your teen is depressed:
- Complaints about sleep
- Drastic changes in eating habits
- Uninterested in any of the activities they normally find joy in
- Aggressive or irrationally angry
As teens they’re fighting for more independence and may want to push back when it comes to bedtimes. While this may work for some, we parents need to stay observant and ensure the change in sleep pattern doesn’t lead to something else.
Tyler Jacobson is a husband, father, freelance writer and outreach specialist with experience with organizations that help troubled teens and parents. His areas of focus include: parenting, social media, addiction, mental illness, and issues facing teenagers today. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | Linkedin