In fact, staying up late to see or talk with friends may be an even bigger problem now, as teens catch up on socializing. Then there are the typical distractions: Television, social media, video games and more. What’s a parent to do?
Rest easy, experts say. There are tried and true techniques that can put your child back on a regular sleep schedule, which will help improve their academic performance and mood.
Is your teen suffering from social jet lag? That wouldn’t mean they are behind on making friends or going to parties — in the sleep world, it’s a term for the disparity between the number of hours you sleep during the week compared to the weekend.
“Social jetlag occurs when people sleep later on the weekend than during the work or school week, and this leads to a delay in circadian timing,” said sleep specialist Kenneth Wright, a professor of integrative psychology at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
“Come Monday morning, their clock is several time zones later, leading to a type of ‘jet lag,'” Wright said.
Teens are especially prone to staying up much later on weekends and sleeping in. But their natural sleep rhythm often keeps them up later on weekdays, too.
What happens in the body
The pressure to fall asleep “accumulates more slowly” in the brain, which “consequently results in difficulty falling asleep at an earlier bedtime,” the AAP noted, resulting in as much as a two-hour shift in sleep/wake cycles in middle childhood.
“On a practical level, this research indicates that the average teenager in today’s society has difficulty falling asleep before 11:00 p.m. and is best suited to wake at 8:00 a.m. or later,” the AAP concluded.
The impact on health and safety
A constant diet of insufficient sleep increases the dangers of social jet lag, which include insomnia, early waking or excessive sleepiness, daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, constipation or diarrhea, and an overall feeling of not being well, the AAP said.
What schools can do
What parents can do
With the added pressures of homework, extracurricular activities and the lure of social media, it can be tough to help a teen get better sleep. Experts suggest talking to your teen about the biological changes to their sleep cycle and discussing ways you can both work together to solve their sleep deficit.
Don’t allow weekend sleep-ins. Try to wake your teen on weekends within one hour of his or her typical time to get up during the week for school. If they get up at 6 a.m. on weekdays, try to wake them by 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. at the latest on Saturday and Sunday.
According to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, the “rule of thumb is every hour your teen sleeps in on the weekend it will take a day for the body to adjust.”
Try to get them to sleep earlier. Granted, you are battling a hormonal change in their body clock, but every little bit helps, experts say. Falling asleep just one half-hour earlier each night adds 3.5 hours toward curing any sleep deficit.
Parents, this applies to you, too. Set an example for your children by turning off the TV and going into your bedroom an hour before bedtime to relax and start your journey to sleep. If the entire house is shut down and quiet, it sends a message that sleep is a priority in your home.
Don’t allow screens of any sort in the bedroom. All homework and social media or television should be done outside the bedroom, sleep experts stress. The brain needs to know that the bedroom is only for sleep, so that when you enter and begin your bedtime routine, the relaxation response is already underway.
Set a relaxation routine. Invite everyone into the family room for some soothing music or an adult version of story time, where everyone reads or listens to audio books. Do some family yoga or turn on a meditation tape.
Afterward, send everyone off for a warm bath or shower right before lights out.
Set up sleep success. A cool, dark bedroom helps the body sleep deeper and longer. Keep the temperature at or below 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 20 degrees Celsius). Shut off any blue light from smartphones, laptops and electronic clocks by either charging them outside the bedroom or covering them with a piece of clothing. Go ahead and turn off any social media or work alerts (no Slack, Facebook, Instagram or email pings at 2 a.m.).
CNN’s Megan Marples contributed to this story.