“My name is Ashley and I’m a mother of a 2- and a 15-year-old daughter and son. As you know, it’s summertime and we’ve all been looking forward to it. I was glad that we could all spend some time together and bond as a family. But so far, it hasn’t been going great. My son sleeps all day and is up all night, playing video games or just browsing the internet. The rest of the family has a normal sleeping schedule. This leaves me no time to plan for fun things to do together. What should I do?”
Dear Ashley, I’m so sorry to hear that your plans to bring the family together have fallen through. I understand that you feel overwhelmed by your son being a night owl. However, to decide what’s the best thing you can do, you should first try to understand the reasons why teenagers tend to sleep all day and be up all night.
Why Do Teenagers Have Reversed Circadian Rhythms?
Circadian rhythms are internal clocks that basically regulate the time you sleep and wake up within 24 hours. I will mention below the reasons why teenagers’ circadian rhythms are opposite to that of other people’s:
Because It’s Fun
The simplest reason why a teenager is up all night is that nighttime is fun and interesting for them. A lot of the interesting stuff in stories happen during the night. Batman fights crime at night; vampires prey on humans at night; ghosts haunt houses at night, and so on. The night gives them a mysterious and magical vibe, something that’s not present when the sun is up.
Another compelling truth about the night is that everybody else is asleep. So, they sense some sort of freedom and calmness. For example, you don’t constantly nag them about undone chores or incomplete homework, which is great for them.
They Have Nothing to Look Forward To
Remember the “night before a school trip” meme? It was a photo of a guy sleeping on a bed with his clothes and shoes neatly laid beside him. Just as with any other joke, it holds some truth. When children have no motivation for the upcoming day, they’ll most likely sleep through it.
It’s not that inconsiderate of them when you think about it. As adults, we have many responsibilities throughout the day. We have to work so that we can pay the bills. We have to pick up our children from school. We’ve got to go buy some groceries so that our family won’t starve. Teens have none of that. Especially during the summer. The only things that are expected from them come from their parents. It’s time to ask yourself: “Do I consider my son’s likes and dislikes when making plans?”. Maybe your son isn’t that into what you define as “fun things.” Read about Things Teenagers Know That Parents Should Learn from Them.
They’re Too Dependent on Their Digital Devices
The National Sleep Foundation’s 2006 poll finds that 50% to 90% of American adolescents don’t get enough sleep, which is 9 hours for their age range. Additionally, a review article compiled a vast body of literature on the effects of digital media on children’s and adolescents’ sleep patterns. According to the article, sleep time can be replaced with time spent on screen-based media. It also shows that the emotional stimulation or the light that comes from the device’s screen can cause sleeplessness.
Your teenager sleeps all day because his body is trying to compensate for all the wakeful nights spent on their phone. If you suspect that your son is spending too much time on his phone or other devices, follow this link to read about how to protect your child from screen addiction.
They Have Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder
Don’t be intimidated by the disorder’s big name. It’s physiologically natural for teenagers to fall asleep later than toddlers or adults. That’s because, during adolescence, teens’ brains delay the secretion of the melatonin hormone, which is responsible for making us feel sleepy.
According to an article published in Pediatrics, DSPD doesn’t necessarily mean that teenagers are sleep-deprived. It is when their social responsibilities push them to wake up sooner that this becomes a problem. Since your son isn’t currently going to school, if he’s getting enough sleep hours, he’s going to be fine.
Should You Take Measures?
“Should I finally do something about it when my son sleeps all day and is up all night?” Well, that depends.
My daughter sleeps all day too and I’ve decided to let her be for a while. She got exhausted during the final exams and made a promise to herself to sleep a lot in the summer. It’s a transitory phase that will pass. But this is not always the case.
Poor sleeping patterns and lack of sleep are associated with several health risks such as depression or suicidal behaviors. In an episode of the Children’s National Hospital podcast called Pandemic Parenting: COVID-19 and Sleep Schedules, Dr. D. Lewin stated that it’s okay for teenagers to move their sleep pattern a few hours forward, especially if it’s not on a school night. However, sleeping all day is not okay.
If by “all day” you mean that your son wakes up late because he sleeps late – some sort of parental exaggeration we’re all familiar with – then maybe you should cut him some slack. But if he barely sees any sunlight because he sleeps throughout the whole day, then you should take some measures.
If your child is spending so much time on his phone that it disrupts his daily routine, maybe it’s time to interfere. One of the most efficient ways is to use parental control apps. My suggestion is the Safes app as it’s highly efficient and can be installed on Android, iOS, and windows. With this app, you can set a time limit for screen usage, which will allow your child to sleep at night and wake up sooner and ultimately enjoy daytime activities as well.
Hope I have answered your question and happy summer!