My teen will not get up in the morning and is too tired for school

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Question

Hi, I am wondering why teenage boys tend to want to sleep all day & can’t get up for school? I have a 14 yr old & he hates getting up in the morning, it takes me 2 hrs to get him up & i must say i am over this daily routine. He can’t understand why i get so stressed by the end of it. He then saunters of to to school grudgingly. He has always been a big sleeper but this is rediculous. Any suggestions would be appreciated?

Answer

Sleepy teenage boys have been a problem for many parents, and in our society where rooms are so comfy and beds so snugly it is even more difficult. Like most parenting teen issues there are no easy or quick solutions to this – just time and persistence.

Let’s start by giving him the benefit of the doubt: the problem could simply be that he is a teenager. There is a lot of evidence to show that sleep patterns do change during adolescence (it has to do with the timing of the secretion of melatonin) which means that the feeling of sleepiness arrives much later at night. Research has also proven that teens also need around 9 1/2 hours of sleep a night. When you add to this the fact their days are so full of activity and their nights so full of excitement it is little wonder they are often hard to get up in the morning.

Assuming that your son wants to go to school (because if he does not that is a quite different story) here are some suggestions that might help:

1) Work to his needs. Acknowledge that as a teen he needs around 10 hours in bed a night and come to an arrangement with him about what time he goes to bed based on what time he needs to get up.

2) Avoid the stimulants. We can’t blame puberty for all of the problem, many kids sleep late because they play late. TV, music, phone calls & texting, internet games & chat keep their brains aroused and bodies out of bed till very late at night. Setting clear boundaries about the use of these can help. Be especially strong about phone and internet based activity because not only do they not have a defined end point, they have an external party prolonging the interest. Be careful of physical stimulants too. All caffeine products (Caffeinated drinks, Guarana products, etc) should be avoided after the early afternoon and smoking avoided always, but especially after the early evening. Exercise is great in the afternoon, but not late at night.

3) Do things at night. Have your son do as much of what he needs to be ready for school the night before. If at all possible make his only responsibility in the morning that of going to school.

4) Time shift. Use his preferred entertainment to get him up in the morning. For example, if he absolutely must watch The Simpson’s (or Family Guy or American Dad or the Wiggles – I don’t know your son) record it for him and play it 45 minutes before he is due to leave for school.

5) Reduce the margins. Following on from that, come to an agreement with him about how much time he does need from when he wakes up till when he leaves for school and don’t bother waking him till that time. Better still give him the responsibility to set an alarm for himself. Maybe if he wakes with a sense of urgency knowing there is only just enough time to get ready he might be a little more motivated.

6) Choose consequences that sting. Tie consequences to something other than school. Even if he likes school, missing some of it is not something he will perceive as a personal cost so find something that is (money, social hours on the weekend, TV and internet rights, etc) and make those the consequence of him not getting up on time.

As to grudgingly sauntering off to school – sorry, nothing can be done about that!

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