Doctor Love: Mother knows best

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

Readers, please send your letters. They can be emails, formal letters or handwritten notes. They are edited solely for grammar and spelling. Also, they are sometimes edited for length.

Dear Doctor Love,
My fourteen year old son stays up really late then he cannot get up in the morning and wants to nap all afternoon. I think it is laziness but my husband says he needs extra sleep. Who is right?
/s/Mother knows best

Dear Mother,
In this case, father knows best. The National Sleep Foundation states that teenagers require eight to ten hours of sleep per night to function normally and most don’t get anywhere close to that amount. They go to bed late and get up early, then feel drowsy midday during classes. So instead of worrying that he is getting too much sleep, you need to make sure he is getting enough proper sleep.
In adolescence, teenager’s sleep patterns progressively get later because of the demands on their time, like homework, jobs and extracurricular activities. They don’t feel tired until late and don’t go to bed until it is too late to get a good night sleep. This build-up of inadequate sleep creates poor sleep habits for life. It also affects cognitive functioning, academic achievement, and physical and emotional health. This pattern is made worse by teens staying up late on weekends then sleeping in very late, throwing off the pattern they need to set for the week. It is hard to get teens into bed at a proper hour so expect resistance to the following tips, but getting your teenager into a calm and quiet state early will help create a better sleep pattern.
Try to see he gets eight hours of sleep at night – getting to bed by eleven then getting up at seven during the school term will literally help him make better grades and retain more information. Let him nap one hour or so in the early afternoon. Encourage exercise during the day like playing basketball, jogging, or riding a bike for a distance to help him expend some energy so he chills out earlier. If possible, curfew his television, phone, computer and game by around ten-thirty to let his brain and body relax and slow down over the next hour. See that evening snacks are light carbohydrates like cereal or pretzels.
Keeping his room dark and cool, and adding a fan for white noise will help his thoughts to calm down and allow him to sleep earlier and much more soundly. The brain will get sleep when it requires it, so developing good sleep patterns now might keep him from falling asleep while in class or worse, when driving a vehicle.

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