asleep close to the usual time. Sarah told her mom that she simply didn’t feel tired before midnight or 1:00 in the morning.
Hard as this was for my friend to relate to—Joan herself was so tired in the evenings after working all day at her public relations job, making dinner for her family, helping her younger kids with homework, and doing all the household and family things that needed to be done that day that she was more than ready to collapse by 10:00 p.m.—Sarah wasn’t being a stubborn, defiant adolescent (OK, maybe she was being a little stubborn). Like most teenagers, she didn’t feel the urge to sleep until well into the night. She would have loved to sleep all morning, and did sleep till close to noon on the weekends, but she just couldn’t manage to fall asleep at what her mom considered a reasonable hour.
A TEEN’S TAKE
“I’m convinced I need sleep—I just choose not to do it. There’s a lot going on in my life, but giving up activities isn’t the answer. Being up late is a social aspect of being a teenager. You want to talk to your friends and go online at night. If you took this away it would be like cutting out half your life.”
Does this scenario sound familiar? Most likely it does. I hear similar stories daily in my practice, and I’ve lived through similar scenarios with my own kids. Teenagers just about everywhere struggle with the negative effects of lack of sleep, but even when their schedule permits it they can’t seem to get to sleep early enough to get all that they need before the alarm goes off in the morning. We, as parents, could easily argue that our kids have time-management issues and that they could talk with their friends after school and in the early evening and still have plenty of time to do their homework. But the problem is that they feel most awake, alive, and ready to socialize late at night.
The reason? As we’ll talk about in Chapter 5, today’s competitive 24/7 world makes it hard for teenagers to turn off and tune out. But a major contributor to most teens’ tendency to stay up all night and sleep all day is the chemistry of their brains. Studies show that, while children’s and adults’ brains are wired to follow a sleep-wake cycle that makes them sleepy in the mid- to late evening and wakeful first thing