School is out, and to your teenager, that could mean every day is Saturday. Staying up late playing video games or out with friends and then staying in bed until noon the next day can quickly become the norm. According to Dr. Rosemary Stein, with the Christian Medical and Dental association, that is just the opposite of what their body needs.

She shares some insight to the importance of a regular sleep schedule for teenagers

“One of the questions I asked teens during the summer is ‘what time do you wake up, and what time do you go to sleep?’ Our children are regularly going to sleep during the summer at eleven, twelve, or one o’clock in the morning because they don’t have any barriers.”

“They’re not given rules so they make up their own schedules and they just fall asleep exhausted, and then they wake up at ten or eleven in the morning. They skip breakfast and go straight to lunch. You can imagine the repercussions that this is going to have on these kids’ bodies. This is not good. Kids need routines. They need to make sleep habits.”

That’s really wonderful advice, and surely our teens will joyfully follow it to the letter, right? Rarely is anything that simple, but turning the time before bed into a designated family time can help them not only want to put down the screens, but also feel more involved and loved by the family.

“During that time, I suggest that spending time with parents. If they find it difficult to get to sleep – try some sleepy-time tea, some nice conversation, maybe you can do a devotional together. Go over the day with your kid so that the last thoughts that the child has going to sleep are how much his parents love them and they’re interested in them.

“That builds a good sleep hygiene, the child feels comfortable in the setting, and know they’re secure because Mom and Dad love them.”

While convincing your teen to put down their phone or controller before bed isn’t easy, it is incredibly important to their health, and can be even healthier for the family bond.

Rosemary Stein, MD is a pediatrician with the Christian Medical and Dental association. She and her husband began their own pediatric medical practice, The International Family Clinic, with the mission to give the best medical care and guidance to the underserved in Alamance County.

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