But Mom, It’s Only 9PM…

Posted on: 03/9/11 2:14 PM | by Jonathan McKee

This morning I was talking with my 15-year-old daughter Alyssa on the way to school about a friend of hers who she’s been praying for. “She’s always in a bad mood,” Alyssa ranted. “She’s got stressful stuff going on at home and she never gets enough sleep.”

Even though I had a good guess as to why, I asked Alyssa, “Why isn’t she getting enough sleep?”

“Because she stays up late texting a guy every night. He’ll text her in the middle of the night. She doesn’t ever turn off her cell phone.”

Alyssa’s friend isn’t alone. As a matter of fact, her friend is in the majority. According to a brand new study by the National Sleep Foundation:

  • The average hours of sleep per night for 13-18-year-olds is 7 hours and 26 minutes, well short of the 9 hours and 15 minutes recommended by experts.
  • 72% of this age group text the hour before bedtime (which the report related to not getting good or enough sleep)
  • 28% of this age group leave their phone ringers on all night in their bedroom (that doesn’t include vibrate)(this group reports getting much less sleep)
  • Average bedtime for this age group is 11:02 p.m.
  • 13-18-year-olds drink, on average, 3.1 caffeinated beverages a day to try to cope with their lack of sleep.

I’ll be honest. Helping our kids get good sleep isn’t easy. I’m not talking about enforcing a “cell phone is off at night” policy -that’s simple. Parent need to just lay down the law (and frankly, if parents find it difficult to enforce, then they might need to just collect cell phones before bedtime).

The difficulty I’m talking about is dealing with how busy our kids are today and the high expectations from school, sports and every facet of their lives. I know Alyssa really struggles to get it all done and still get to bed at a good time: sports/exercise, piano, homework, family dinners, church, reading her Bible… it’s a lot to cram in. Alyssa and I actually sat down this past weekend and tried to schedule some of this stuff and we came up with the tough conclusion that she might have to quit piano for a while.

These are tough choices to make. Alyssa (15), is getting old enough to start making some of these choices on her own. Lori and I are trying to help “think with her” (those who’ve attended my parenting seminars recognize that little catch phrase) through this process.

As my daughter finished telling me about her friend and got out of the car this morning, I asked her. “So does that mean you’re glad that Mom and I make you guys turn off your cell phones before you go to bed?”

She gave me an evil stare (like, “Shut up, I know you’re right. Don’t gloat in it!”)   🙂

AN ASIDE: My parenting book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent (released at the end of this month) is probably going to be available for pre-sale next week on TheSource4Parents.com

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