Sleepy Teenagers – How Much Do They Need?

Sleepy Teenagers – How Much Do They Need?

With the exams finally behind us and the holidays stretching ahead it has struck me that one thing teenagers can do very well is sleep.

In our house there is a definite teen sleep pattern evolving that eschews that of the rest of the house and means not only are our body clocks not in tune but also we are out of sync on so many other levels as a result.

If he is not working to pay for his multiple upcoming summer holidays, our eldest will go out as we go to bed, arrive home as my husband goes to work, go to sleep as I get up and his breakfast is our lunch and so on and so forth.   As for our youngest, well she is going through a massive growth spurt at the moment and is permanently tired so needs no encouragement to sleep some more.

I am certainly not a morning person and relish the holidays and the chance for some extra shut eye, but my teenagers make sleeping look like an Olympic sport when not at school and I confess that on a couple of occasions I have resorted to the habit namely reserved for new mums of creeping in to their rooms and checking for a pulse for fear they have slipped in to a sleep induced coma!

Of course this whole scenario is ironic as I am sure like many other parents of teenagers will attest, the term time is a constant battle to get them to go to bed and get enough sleep, so if I argue with them now about cutting their sleep short and getting up earlier, they simply raise their eyebrows and challenge my logic.

Research from the National Sleep Foundation shows that teenagers between the ages of 14-18 need around 9 hours sleep a night, not only for their general well being but also to function at their best.

As adults, we are all too aware of the benefits of sleep.  It makes us more alert and we have more energy, we think more clearly and make better decisions and that of course means we are all much happier and enjoy life more, but just as with everything else in life though, it isn’t just about the quantity of sleep but the quality.

Puberty, has a lot to answer for and as our children move through adolescence their internal body clock starts to alter which in turn affects their circadian rhythm making them more alert later in the day and moving back their time for feeling sleepy at night by about two hours, so it is a futile battle to get them to go to bed early as their body is simply not sleepy enough.

Combine this with busy schedules during the term time and the need to wake up early and go to school and invariably our teenagers are just not getting the amount, let alone the quality of sleep they need.

Cumulative sleep deprivation is bad for our health and as I know from personal experience with my menopausal insomnia, can result in mood swings, concentration issues and poor health and the same is true of teenagers.  They need sleep to ensure their brain grows properly and to make sense of the world.

I have featured a guest post previously from Dr Martin Lee on good sleep hygiene habits for our teenagers and the importance of ensuring they disconnect from the digital world when they go to bed, but what else can we do as parents?

Well during term time a routine and set bed time is important, but it would seem that during the weekends and holidays whilst it may go against every grain in our body and drive us nuts, it is advised to let our teenagers sleep to replenish their fuel reserves, but this should not be at the expense of any parental control.  If left to sleep indefinitely teenagers will experience a complete shift in their circadian rhythm which will mean that when it comes to the end of the holidays and returning to a normal routine they will struggle to adapt.

A good night’s rest is vital mental nourishment and the holidays are a time for resting and throwing the rule book and the alarm clock for that matter out of the window but there is a point at which it is necessary to call “time teenagers please!”


What is your summer holiday sleep routine? Are your youngsters busy catching up on their sleep?





  1. July 24, 2017 / 8:58 am

    I must confess sleep and bed rules do go out of the window in the hols. Thankfully no one really does stay up late enough that small girl and my day becomes their night!! #tweensteensbeyond
    daydreams of a mum recently posted…When the ice queen becomes the cry baby…My Profile

    • Jo
      July 26, 2017 / 11:36 am

      We all need our sleep and holidays are perfect for doing just that. My husband is the only one in our house who is a “morning” person so for him a lay in still doesn’t go beyond 8am but my teens do push the boundaries sometimes for sure. #TweensTeensBeyond

  2. July 21, 2017 / 6:14 am

    We follow almost what you ådvocate here. During school days the children are in bed by 9 because they have an early morning but the rules are relaxed during weekends and holidays. Interestingly enough my daughter is up and about on weekends way more eagerly than weekdays, even though she knows she can sleep in :-).
    Obsessivemom recently posted…Five ways to trounce the anger demonMy Profile

    • Jo
      July 26, 2017 / 11:37 am

      It is funny that isn’t it Tulika but my daughter is the same too, once she has caught up she starts to get up early again – particularly if she has a great day planned with her friends.

  3. July 20, 2017 / 8:10 pm

    Neither of my daughters was a huge sleeper-in, and the youngest, though out of her teens, can still roll in at 3am and be up for work at 8! I though am reaching the age when a brief early evening nap is nice if I’m to keep going 🙂
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    • Jo
      July 26, 2017 / 11:38 am

      Oh the wonders of youth! Some do have an uncanny knack of being able to survive on little sleep, I have never been one of them though. An early evening nap ticks my boxes too!

  4. July 20, 2017 / 1:35 pm

    My son was always an early riser until puberty hit. Now he sleeps long and hard–like I wished he would have slept as a baby, toddler,and elementary school-er!


    • Jo
      July 26, 2017 / 11:39 am

      Ha ha oh the many wonders of puberty Katy! #TweensTeensBeyond

  5. July 20, 2017 / 9:12 am

    I creep in to check if they’re still alive and breathing as well!! My husband thinks it’s ridiculous – I’m SOOOOO glad to discover that I’m not the only one. You’ve made my day! #TweensTeensBeyond
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    • Jo
      July 27, 2017 / 2:55 pm

      I am so glad I am not alone! My husband thinks I am completely OCD! #TweensTeensBeyond

  6. July 19, 2017 / 5:07 pm

    During term time there is no wifi after 10 to force them to try and switch off but usually it’s just means they lay about complaining!
    We have the same sleep pattern issues and it creates havoc at meal times. I enjoyed the article you shared before from the dr on sleep! Great post!

    • Jo
      July 27, 2017 / 2:59 pm

      My husband used to turn off the Wifi at 9pm which drove my eldest completely nuts as he would often need to use the computer and have access to WiFi for his homework. It is difficult to get the balance completely right isn’t it all the time. I am glad you enjoyed the article from Martin, I thought it was very informative.

  7. July 19, 2017 / 1:40 pm

    My 16-year-old sleeps 12 hours a day since vacation started. I’m a work-at-home mom who also does most of the household chores that’s why I feel like he’s wasting a lot of time. He starts his day at lunch time. At least I don’t have to ask what he wants for breakfast. He doesn’t go to bed until the wee hours. Guess I’m resigned to it. But I still tell him this every night, ” Do you know that your liver (or any internal organ I can think of) regenerates itself between 11pm and 2am… so if you are still awake during this time, you are depriving it to be healthy… so that means…” Yeah, I thought I read that from somewhere…
    Dawn recently posted…Technology and Teenagers Over The Past Twenty YearsMy Profile

    • Jo
      July 27, 2017 / 3:00 pm

      Oh Dawn thank you for referring me to your piece. I also love your technique for trying to get your teen into bed on time. Genius. Thanks for reading and for your comment.

  8. July 19, 2017 / 1:08 pm

    Yes, I can see things getting out of kilter as the holidays approach. This was really interesting to read Jo. Obviously my daughter is a little younger but she has gone from being a big sleeper (we always had our evenings free) to now not being very tired at bedtime. This translates to being tired at all other times! By the sounds of it – that is going to change again. Me, also suffering from not sleeping for various reasons (you will see I have also talked about sleep in my post!), means that no one is ever tired at the same time. Also looking forward to lie ins and less structure and I’ll worry about the pattern going back to the school routine once the end of August rolls round. Here’s to a bit of shut eye for the parents!! #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      July 27, 2017 / 3:02 pm

      Sleep is something we all need and crave and there is always a changing pattern at every age. Just something else for us all to worry about. It’s funny but I often get less sleep in the holidays but feel so much better, it may have something to do with feeling more relaxed and the lack of a stringent routine too. Hope you have a fabulous holiday. #TweensTeensBeyond

  9. July 19, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    We were having a conversation with our 15 year old on this exact subject last week! Her and her friends have NOTHING to do all day and yet they choose to go out at 6pm and come home at midnight! Which means that people like me, who like to be asleep by 10.30pm, miss out on 2 hours sleep every night because we have to wait up to make sure that she is home safely! Then, I still have to get up at 7am to get her little sister off to school and to start work whilst she languishes in bed. As you can probably tell, I am not impressed. I’m glad to know I am not the only one! xx #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      July 27, 2017 / 3:04 pm

      I can feel your angst Sharon! My eldest’s daily routine drives me nuts too sometimes and my husband frequently has to remind him that whilst he may be on holiday there are some people in the house who still need to go to work the next day. Water off a duck’s back of course but of course when he is gone we will miss him! #TweensTeensBeyond

  10. July 19, 2017 / 9:19 am

    Oh I’m milking the teenage sleep deranged pattern as it means I get to enjoy my coffee in peace and do a little blogging in the morning before they surface. I’m quite relaxed as I love them to refuel to be honest but once that last week of the hols hits I do try to get a little bit more of a routine going – my efforts aren’t great or well received but at least when they yawn their way through the first week of term I can say I told you so! #TweensTeensBeyond
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    • Jo
      July 27, 2017 / 3:06 pm

      Yes that side of it is actually beneficial. I love being up before them too and creeping into the study to do some blogging or catch up on some paperwork etc, the whole laziness of holidays is bliss actually and appeals to my inner lazy self. #TweensTeensBeyond

  11. July 18, 2017 / 11:01 pm

    My teens are currently in a show in town and so are not getting to bed until gone midnight. I’m letting them sleep in until about 10 am but that’s all I can manage before I run into their rooms pulling up the blinds screaming about the day is beautiful and how we need to get out in the fresh air… I think if I didn’t wake them they would just sleep all day.
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    • Jo
      July 27, 2017 / 3:08 pm

      Oh that does sound like fun and a lot of hard work too. 10 hours sleep should be enough for most people and I have many say that there is a thing as too much sleep so probably a good idea to give them a nudge after a while. Hope the show is going well. #TweensTeensBeyond

  12. July 18, 2017 / 8:18 pm

    This is a source of contention here. Ours would sleep 18 hours a day if we let her. And eat the other 6 #teenstweensbeyond
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    • Jo
      July 27, 2017 / 3:09 pm

      Sounds like a sore point Jeremy! 18 hours is a lot of sleeping for sure, there must be a lot of growing and brain regeneration going on during that time. #TweensTeensBeyond

  13. July 18, 2017 / 6:49 pm

    I have a Teen that bucks the trend. She is a morning person and can’t stay awake at night. In fact all three children are the same. She does get her 9 hours, so maybe that is the key. That and living in the middle of nowhere, where streetlights are few and far between. #TweensTeensBeyond
    Cheryl | TimeToCraft recently posted…When a girl designs her own dressMy Profile

    • Jo
      July 27, 2017 / 3:14 pm

      Lucky you Cheryl. When we visit my parents in the country we are always all in bed early – I am sure the fresh air has a lot to answer for in that regard. #TweensTeensBeyond

  14. July 18, 2017 / 1:54 pm

    It’s weird, the Tubblet sleeps for ages for the first few weeks and then starts getting up earlier than she needs to for school without me having to yell at her. Until term time starts and it’s back to shouting again! Good luck to us all

    • Jo
      July 18, 2017 / 6:23 pm

      Ah that must be because you have allowed her to rest and recharge her batteries sufficiently! Funny how it all changes as soon as the school term begins again.

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