Sleep deprivation is a cause of friction in many families that include teens. Teens are overwhelmed with activities and parents know it’s not healthy to miss sleep.
Carrie Struggles with Her Daughter’s Lack of Sleep
Carrie and her sixteen-year-old daughter stood in a face-off. They had battled on this topic many times and found no resolution.
Carrie walked to the sofa and sat down. “When we stand to argue, I feel like we’re about to get physical.” She tossed pillows on the floor to make room and patted the sofa. “Come, sit with me.”
Emily uncrossed her arms and shrugged. “I don’t know the point in talking. You never see my side. I don’t have time to sleep eight hours.”
Emily took a deep breath and looked down at her hands. After a pause, she spoke in a soft voice. “I know you don’t have time to sleep. But I don’t want to let this go. What if ten years from now, you have a serious health problem, and its onset can be traced to your teen years’ sleep deprivation?”
“That won’t happen.”
“More and more research confirms—sleep deprivation can cause serious health problems.”
“Like we trust research. We can’t plan our life on something that may change next week.”
“For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that we could know for sure there’d be adverse consequences for sleep deprivation. You could change something to make sleep possible. Let’s look at the choices. We can do this together like we’re on the same team.”
“Okay, I’m listening.”
What If Sleep Deprivation Really Does Lead to Health Issues?
Emily and her mother are wrestling with an issue facing most twenty-first century Americans. We are overloaded and driven to excel. Lack of sleep is a result rather than a cause. But Carrie asked an important question: “What if we knew for sure that shorting our sleep would cause illness?”
Many of us would change our approach to life. We would trim our schedule until we could get more sleep. It is possible. It will take major surgery to cut out activities and commitments that we hold dear.
How Do We Make Changes in Our Families?
What about our kids? Shouldn’t we require a slower lifestyle? Can’t we say, “You have to make some choices. I will not allow you to be in this many major extra-curricular activities.”?
Oh, they’ll complain. My kids complained when I gave them that awful liquid antibiotic to fight bronchitis. But I still gave it to them.
It’s time for us to stand firm and tell our kids that they must cut their schedules until they have a plan that includes sleep. When they are healthy forty-year-olds who have figured out how to have a balanced life, maybe they’ll even remember to say “thank you.”