5 tips to get your teenager out of bed in the morning

Getting your teen out of bed in the morning can feel like an impossible dream but it can be done - you just need to look at it as something to achieve over time.

Sleep is absolutely vital to well-being, so the one thing you need to safeguard is your teenagers’ sleep.  Teenage brains are continuously developing and, although most functions are formed by the time we’re 25, teenagers are working with brains that are still under construction. 

All the changes that happen in puberty are exhausting. Teenagers are going through physical, emotional and hormonal changes at the same time - being a teenager is HARD – and sleep is where they process all of this. When you add in the increased pressure they feel around their education, the expectation that they need to work out what they’re going to do and even who they’re going to be as they grow up means teenagers have a LOT to cope with. 

Talk to them to see if there are any issues or worries that you aren’t aware of. Let them know that you can discuss and resolve these issues together. 


Hormones and body clocks

The reorganisation or rewiring of our brains happens during sleep, so given all that is going on in puberty, it makes sense that teenagers need 10-12 hours of sleep each night – much more than grown adults.

The teenager's body clock runs slower than adults, making the day seem longer. They start staying up later as they get older, making that 10+ hours of sleep each night even harder to find.

There’s been some discussion that students would function better if the school day started later and some middle and high schools in the US have implemented later start times for students. This hasn't happened here in the UK yet, so teens and tweens still need to get up and get to school on time! 

Children aren’t born with the self-regulation skills that adults use to help us plan, focus attention, remember instructions and multi-task. You can help by showing them how to establish their routines and by role-modelling having a routine yourself.

Social media

Social media is everywhere and your teenager has access to and access from it, 24/7. Don’t assume they aren’t on their phones at night!

Artificial or ‘blue’ light, which is given out by phones and other electronic devices, can disrupt sleep patterns in all of us. When natural light dims, melatonin (the sleep hormone) is produced in our bodies, which tells us it’s time for sleep. When this is disrupted by artificial light, our bodies are tricked into staying awake. 

  1. Try to encourage them to stick to a routine even on weekends and holidays. Lie-ins and late nights just disrupt the body clock further. 
  2. Encourage them to get their clothes and what they need to take with them to school or college ready the night before.
  3. Get them outside in the daylight. Exposure to natural light affects when our bodies get tired and ready to go to sleep naturally.
  4. Avoid morning lectures. There's no point in telling them off in the morning when they’re just waking up, it's already happened, it won't make them get up faster and it will just antagonise them (and you!). Remember that they can’t help being tired at that point. Get out of thinking that it's your responsibility to get them up in time and change to “I know you know this”.
  5. Let them stretch their problem-solving skills – let them take responsibility for getting themselves up. Let them set their own sleep schedule around school. 

Allow the natural consequences of sleeping in

Young people need to learn to get themselves to where they need to be, at the time they need to be there. This is their responsibility, not yours. 

I know this part can be so difficult but remember that one of the most important parts of our jobs as parents and carers is to help our kids grow to become responsible, happy, fully functioning adults. If they’re constantly late as a result of struggling to get out of bed, they need to learn how to fix this and learn how to make healthy choices for themselves. Let them know that you trust them to work these things out for themselves. 

Here are some practical ways that you can use to help your teenager get up in the mornings:

  1. Get an old-school alarm clock, and put it just out of reach. 
  2. Open their bedroom door and let the household sounds and smells of the morning in. Let the pets in their room, let their younger siblings go in. There's no need to tiptoe about in the morning. There is also no need to make extra noise like banging a spoon on a saucepan (no matter how tempted you might be!). 
  3. Open the curtains – sunlight reduces melatonin (the sleep hormone) which helps us feel more alert and to wake up in the morning.  
  4. Take them in a glass of water – it’s a good start to anyone’s day and teens need to drink more water! 
  5. Be a positive sleep role model for your child. Have a good night-time routine yourself. Take time to wind down before bed, reduce screen-time before (and in) bed, relax and manage your stress, and reduce your intake of stimulants, such as caffeine before bedtime.

Of course, if you’re concerned about their sleep or lack of, then do go and see your GP. 

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Peacehaven, East Sussex, BN10

Written by Jennifer Warwick

Peacehaven, East Sussex, BN10

I am a BACP registered counsellor working online. I work with people who struggle to balance work, home and family life. People who are constantly rushing, looking after others over themselves and are exhausted as a result. I specialise in relationships, family issues and parenting teens and tweens.
Contact me for a free initial chat by phone.

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