Teen Boys and Sleeping

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dragon wench
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Teen Boys and Sleeping

Postby dragon wench » Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:18 am

For about the last year we have been experiencing considerable trouble waking our son (now 13) in the mornings.
From what I gather, this is actually quite normal with teens, teen boys in particular. However, during the school year, the inability to wake said son is a definite problem.
As I understand it, teen sleeping patterns tend to be such that they function optimally in the late afternoons and evenings/nights, while they are very groggy in the mornings.... *sigh*


Since our son is now on summer break, it's less of an issue, but we are dreading September when the stressful hassle of getting him out of the door on time begins all over again..

The fact that, like me, he has been prone to insomnia most of his life compounds the problem still further.

So, given the demographics of these forums, I thought I'd come here for any advice or suggestions.
Basically, since we can't let him sleep to all hours during the school year, what on earth can we do to make the process of rousing him in the mornings less painful for all concerned?
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Postby fable » Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:11 am

dragon wench wrote:As I understand it, teen sleeping patterns tend to be such that they function optimally in the late afternoons and evenings/nights, while they are very groggy in the mornings.... *sigh*


That was pretty much the way I was, at that time. I was most alert in the evenings, and dead out of it in the mornings. This really didn't change until my 30s, though.

Recommendations? See to it he gets plenty of exercise in the early evenings, so he feels tired enough to sleep earlier.

Talk to him about it. Explain the problems it causes others, but try to find some compromise that will work for all, with his input.

Consider dealing with the insomnia issue. See a GP or a pulmonologist with some awareness of sleep apnea.

Whatever you do, don't do what my mother always did at 7:30 am: turn on a radio near where I slept (which was near the kitchen) loudly to a station that ran Sousa marches, which she happened to enjoy, and keep it on while preparing her breakfast. Then, when your son asks you to turn it off, don't yell at him repeatedly that he's a bum and an idiot. It didn't achieve anything at the time, and I'm pretty certain it never worked for anybody else, either. ;)
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Postby Tower_Master » Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:29 am

Foremost, a congratulations on GETTING your son to the age of 13 without murdering him in his sleep - no mean feat in and of itself :p !

I'd have to agree with Fable 100% - as an all-too-recently teenaged boy who still has trouble getting up in the mornings, I'll vouch for the usual parental solution of "Just wake up earlier!" not working at all. The biggest help for me was trying to maintain some semblance of a normal schedule, even on weekends when heading off to school on time isn't a concern - once you get in to that groove, it's a lot easier to stay there. Afternoon jogs and setting two alarms (one before I actually intend on getting up) have helped too!

Something you might want to mention to him is that, even if he DOES wake up on time, if he's still burning too much of the midnight oil, daily naps in your math classes have a way of really torching your grades, if you let yourself get too far behind. Having insomnia must really make this a royal pain to figure out - best of luck, DW! :)

PS - Projectile shoes do no an alarm clock make. Just a thought! :angel:
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Postby Tricky » Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:10 pm

Looking back on it I really do owe my mother a huge debt for waking me up all those times (is it really always the mother who does that?). I ought to surprise her with a gift one of these days. :)

It's funny though, I never thought of that as a problem inherent to a particular age. Now that you mentioned it, the only times when I could sleep straight through my mother waking me was when I was when I was exactly that age. How odd! :)

I think my mum did two things to make it easier for me to wake up. First, she made breakfast less of an obstacle. I was one of those kids that could barely eat straight out of bed. I could barely swallow my food, so she made me drink more and eat fluidy things like oatmeal (with yoghurty things to make it sweet). Less resistance made breakfast less of an obstacle to overcome, and so I think I had an easier time waking up for it.

Also during the winter months she used to turn on the lights ten or so minutes before actually waking me. She would go and make some tea or something, just long enough for me to get to a state of consciousness that actually allowed me to hear her talk to me.
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Postby Moonbiter » Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:46 am

My father actually started out being pretty easy on me when I was around 12. Then, as I got worse and more obnoxious, let's say around 16-17, he just let himself go. He would storm into my room, tear open the curtains, throw the window wide open and steal my duvet. This is Norway, remember... Then he would turn my own music, which he of course hated, against me by gleefully cranking the stereo up to max. There I was, nekkid on the bed with freezing winter air blowing in to the room and Motörhead hammering away at maximum volume. :eek: Did I get up? Oh yes! Did I derserve it? Ditto! I will quite happily do the same to my son when he comes of age.:mischief: :D

Honestly, the worst years are between 15 and 20, and then it sorts itself out, depending on his choice of lifestyle. I joined the army for a while, and when I came back the whole thing had more or less regulated itself. Of course then I adapted a largely nocturnal life, but I rarely slept more than eight hours anyway. Honestly, he's a teenage boy, what do you expect? In three years time him sleeping a bit much is gonna be the least of your problems... :rolleyes: :D
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Postby Claudius » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:11 pm

I have to disagree about exercising in the evening. According to the sleep hygiene material I heard in pharmacy school exercise late arouses the body and often makes it more difficult to sleep. Exercise earlier in the day does help. Restrict caffeine to the morning or cut it out. Cigarettes also are a stimulant and can interfere in sleep. Alcohol can cause you to sleep then wake up (ok some of this is probably not for a 13 year old but its good to know). If I remember right eating very close to bed is also not a good idea. Designate the bedroom or at least the bed as a sleeping zone. This causes you to associate going to this room with sleep rather than arousal (of course meant in an inoccent sense ie no studying in bed or something like that and if its a real problem consider restricting the whole bedroom to rest. Do something to wind down before bedtime reading for example or listening to relaxing music.

There are some relaxation techniques such as a body scan that can help with sleep. A body scan is where you lift your parts of the body (or just feel there still weight) in sequence and feel them.

I heard an ancient technique that I never got straight (I don't have sleep trouble) but my meditation instructor swears by it. It involved either exhaling and holding the breath till the oxygen starved reflex is triggered and then a moment longer then breath. Or else it was inhale/hold and wait for the reflex. I can't remember which? Then (when you have taken a breath again to replenish oxygen and are back to normal breathing) exhale close the eyes at the moment you get to the end of the exhale and focus on the sensation at the nostril as you breath in with eyes closed. Feel the point at which the inhale reverses to an exhale (a subtle sensation) then exhale feeling the nostrils. Continue to breath and rest in the breath until you drift off into thinking and come back again. Once you come back you can repeat the breathing part (called a one breath meditation) but only do the holding breath part once during the evening.

As far as getting up in the morning its just part of life. There are good reasons to go to school and since you are there you might as well learn something. Coffee seems to be pretty benign in moderation healthwise as far as we know today, but like I say no coffee after noon.
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Postby Monolith » Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:46 am

A bucket of cold water should do the trick.

But seriously, I'd do what my parents did when I was 13 - let me find a solution myself as it was me who had to deal with the consequences and therefore my problem. Granted, I didn't have that much of a problem with getting up early most of the time, but still, I stopped eating breakfasts, learned to do cycle sprints to school at top speed, became notorious for coming late and maxed out my persuasion skill (which is more usefull in life than everything I missed out on at school anyway).
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Postby Wajal » Tue Jul 15, 2008 4:17 am

Hi there, it is as you say dragon wench, that teens have harder to wake up early and this is thanks to the growing up.. teens go through many different stages toward being adult.

This change their sleepcycle and make them go to sleep later and wake up later, the modern society often dont adapt to this, but teens would feel better and accomplish more in school if it was adapted after the teens sleepcycle.
Teens have the "deep sleep" period around 8-10 in the morning (am?).

^^ this dont help you mutch, but I hope it will explain more if you did not now this.

And I apologies if my english seems simple, its not my daily language.
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Postby Curry » Tue Jul 15, 2008 5:16 am

ffs just make your son go to bed earlier.
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Postby Nightmare » Tue Jul 15, 2008 11:36 pm

When I was 13, my dad woke me up for school one day by coming into my room playing a recorder (the instrument). Of course, he couldn't really play it well. Needlessly to say, it was one of the worst wake-ups I've ever had, and I said some things that aren't repeatable on the forum. ;) But, it did get me up in the end.

Maybe try setting an alarm earlier. While I was in high school, I generally had my radio alarm going off for about 30 minutes before I'd actually get out of bed. If I didn't get up after they repeatedly told me too and if I ignored my alarm, then I simply had to deal with the consequences at school. This level of responsibility probably helped me eventually wake up early enough to make it to school on time.

It doesn't really stop though. I'm 21 right now, and have some of the worst sleep habits if I'm not constrained to any work or school schedule.
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Postby VonDondu » Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:44 pm

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but most of the parents I've seen coddle their children way too much, and I think it leaves them unprepared for life's challenges. You shouldn't demand much accountability and responsibility from, say, an eight-year-old, but when they reach age 13, I think it's time for them to start learning what it means to be a grown-up. I'm not saying you should expect them to act like grown-ups, but they should at least understand the meaning of responsibility so they can learn how to be responsible and independent. That way, they will be more successful on the long, hard road to becoming an adult.

When my brother was 13, he got up at 5:00AM nearly every morning so he could go running with his cross-country track team before classes. You can generalize all you want about a teenager's sleep cycle, but my brother adapted to a very demanding schedule, and he was very healthy and very motivated. I certainly don't think you should call your child a "lazy, worthless bum" if he has trouble waking up in the morning, and I am just as appalled by abuse as anyone else. But I don't think there's anything wrong with encouraging your child and motivating him and basically telling him, "You can do it!" I also think it helps if he something to look forward to when he wakes up. My brother looked forward to his early morning workouts--as he put it, they "gave him more energy". (He also looked forward to breakfast--he ate enough food to feed four people, and I just assumed that was normal.)

It's no secret that I admired my older brother. I also admired other boys who were like him. When I was 13, I have to admit that I was pretty judgmental when it came to boys, and I had a tendency to look down upon the ones who were, shall we say, not motivated. I wasn't mean or insulting to them (I was always nice to everyone), but the truth is that I wouldn't even consider dating a "mama's boy" or, as one of my friends used to call them, a "bedwetter". I think it's in any boy's best interests to "get with the program", so to speak, especially if he doesn't want to wait until he gets to college before he goes out on his first date.

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Postby Tower_Master » Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:12 am

VonDondu wrote:I think it's in any boy's best interests to "get with the program", so to speak, especially if he doesn't want to wait until he gets to college before he goes out on his first date.


Now *sniff*...what's wrong with *sniff* that??? I mean, lots of other boys waited until college to find their first girlfriends...at least, that's what my mommy tells me *whimper*. :( ;)

Way to go and break up our male pity party with your brutal honesty, Von. Truly, thank you :p . You're absolutely right about taking responsibility as early as possible - even though some of us may have problems with that to this day :angel:. I made the mistake of seeing a girl who ran collegiate XC - longest few months of my LIFE. Brilliant lady - but FAR too motivated!!!
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Postby Maharlika » Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:59 am

[color="Teal"]Von, well said.

My sentiments too.

My son is 8 and he is a member of the football team. I guess being a member of the varsity team for two years running at a young age has instilled in him the value of discipline. Discipline not as related to punishment but rather to self-discipline. He sleeps early when there is training so he can wake up early without having to feel the rigors of interrupted sleep. It's even earlier when it's game day.

Kids his age and up should start learning the consequences of their actions, in my opinion.

Of course, DW's son's case could be something of a health/medical issue, but if it's not, then IMHO he should start actually DOING and FACING UP to whatever decision he has made.

edit- when I said football, I meant World Football, not the American type.[/color]
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Postby Claudius » Thu Jul 17, 2008 9:43 am

I think the key to discipline is motivation. And a person has to experiment with what motivates them. I usually reflect on the fact that I will die eventually and all of the balls I am juggling now will fall to the ground eventually. Which also helps me to see what is most important to me.
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Postby dragon wench » Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:27 pm

@Mah and Von Dondu,
Indeed. The problem, however, is that while our son is very mature and responsible in numerous areas, we have considerable trouble trouble getting through to him in this particular case.
Very frustrating *sigh*
And yes, we have tried to to make him appreciate the cause and effect relationship between action and consequence, it has actually been a cornerstone of his upbringing, and for the most part, it has succeeded.. but we just aren't getting through to him on this.

It may be an idea to look at the whole motivation thing, but I don't think death is going to be very effective in the case of our son, most 13-yr-olds think they are immortal.


@Curry,
it's really not that simple, and the entire matter is further complicated by the fact that he gets insomnia, which incidentally, I already mentioned in my post.

Anyway guys,
thanks for the suggestions.. I think I've got a hard case here though ;)
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Postby Claudius » Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:48 pm

DW: your right on immortal 13 year olds. I think Von Dondu hit on what will soon be a great motivation = chicks will like him better haha. And keep in mind there is counter pressure. Not following the rules and coming late is 'kinda cool' at that age it seems?
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Postby Gilliatt » Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:49 pm

If he suffers from insomnia, I guess it has more to do with tiredness than motivation.

I don't know if that's your son's case (or yours), but playing video games or watching TV before going to bed is a big factor in insomnia as it changes melatonin levels. If he does that, I think it's the first thing you should try to change.

As someone else suggested, reading before going to bed is a good thing.

As for eating before going to bed, there are different theories. (I have a childhood friend who is a nutritionist.) Personally, I need to eat less than two hours before bed, or else I'll wake up in the middle of the night because I'm too hungry. So it depends on people.

The number of required sleeping hours are also different from one person to another. I know people who sleep only 5 hours per day, while some need much more. Einstein, for example, used to sleep 11 hours a day. I know it might be difficult for a teenager to go to bed at 8 or 9 pm, but it may be possible that it's exactly what he needs.

Hope that helps. :)

Edit: As you have probably guessed, the problem with video games and TV come from the screen and not from what's on the screen. So chatting or reading Gamebanshee threads before bed is not recommanded either.
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Postby Maharlika » Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:51 pm

[color="Teal"]@DW: The way I look at your situation, I would suggest having him checked by the doctor just to be sure that certain bases are covered. ;)

Knowing you, I seriously doubt you're "the coddling to bits" kinda mom. :p [/color]
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Postby Yshania » Mon Aug 04, 2008 8:05 pm

Hmmmm...given our boys are the same age, and the time difference, and the fact they know each other (and since it has been some time, they have some catching up to do) how about your kid rings mine before he goes to bed, and mine rings yours after he is home from school? I know it is the holidays now, but discipline takes time...
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Postby dragon wench » Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:40 pm

Yshania wrote:Hmmmm...given our boys are the same age, and the time difference, and the fact they know each other (and since it has been some time, they have some catching up to do) how about your kid rings mine before he goes to bed, and mine rings yours after he is home from school? I know it is the holidays now, but discipline takes time...


Ysh! Nice to see you ;)

That is not at all a bad idea, I'll mention it to my son once I can tear him away from his WoW raid... Given that he is shy, even though he does know your lad, I'm not sure how he'll respond, but it is definitely worth a shot.
Maybe PM me your phone number, since I'm not sure if I have your most recent. I'll also pass along mine, since we have moved (again) and have a new number.
[SPOILER]testingtest12[/SPOILER][SIZE="1"]Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

[SPOILER]testingtest12[/SPOILER][color="Silver"].......All those moments ... will be lost ... in time ... like tears in rain.[/size][/color]