This post offers no-war ways to get your teen out of bed for school.
Let’s face it, moving the Rock of Gibraltar seems like an easier task than getting our teens out of bed in the morning for school.
Most teens (not all) moan and groan, roll over, hit the snooze button (17 times) and end up eventually dragging themselves out of bed, frantically dashing out the door in a sweatshirt they grabbed off the floor and barely making it to their first class before the bell rings.
I mean, come on… we’re parents. We’re supposed to be helping our kids prepare for life without us. We’re supposed to be encouraging independence, maturity and the ability to manage their schedule on their own without our constant intervention, i.e. nagging, yelling, reminding, pleading, threatening…
But, before you totally lose it and consider hiring a foreman to come in with a crane to forcefully lift your child out of bed for school, there’s something you need to know.
In most cases, it’s not them. It’s their body.
Remember when they were toddlers and they woke up at the crack of dawn raring to go? Well, that all changes when kids hit the teen years and their internal body clock starts to shift.
According to UCLA Health Sleep Center, teen’s circadian cycle changes – the natural rhythm of the body that tells them when to wake up and fall asleep. Before puberty, hitting the sack at 8:oo or 9:oo p.m. might have been the norm. As soon as they hit puberty, they become night owls (seemingly overnight) unable to fall asleep until 10:oo p.m., 11:oo p.m. or sometimes even midnight.
And, considering the fact that teens still need an average of nine hours of sleep at night, it makes perfect sense that when it comes time to wake up for school they’re totally exhausted and have to fight just to open their eyes.
To avoid the daily battle of sleepiness and help your teen get moving on those early mornings, here are a few “no-war” ways to get your teen out of bed for school.
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1. Encourage Them to Hydrate First Thing in the AM
Sounds too easy, I know, but it works. It’s a science-backed fact – when your body doesn’t have enough water it can experience a ton of negative side effects including everything from mood and concentration issues to an increase in headaches and a sluggish metabolism.
Beyond this, physical performance, including alertness and energy, takes a big hit as well, especially in the morning when you’ve gone six to eight hours without rehydrating.
To kick-start your teen’s day, have them skip the caffeinated soda or coffee and pass them a 16-ounce glass of H20 instead. Not only will the water fuel their body and brain, but it will also give them a boost of energy and make them far more alert to start their day.
2. Get Their Internal Clock on Track
We’ve heard it a million times. To get your kids on a more normal sleep schedule, turn off the electronics. But, it’s not necessarily the electronics themselves that keep our kids awake (although it is easy to lose track of time when you’re surfing the net). What’s really causing the problem according to a Harvard Health Sleep Study, is external light.
Light is one of the most important external factors that can impact sleep. And, it does so both directly, by making it difficult to fall asleep, and indirectly, by influencing the timing of our internal clock and affecting our preferred time to sleep. To help your teen fall asleep earlier and make it easier to wake in the morning, have them shut down the electronics early (no later than 9 p.m.) and pull back those curtains in the morning to let the morning sunshine in the room.
3. Get Creative with Their Alarm Clock
When trying to lure a sleepy teenager out of bed, sometimes the best defense is a great offense. In other words, you have to pull out all the stops. Start by getting an alarm clock they’ll respond to.
Whether it’s waking up to rap or pop music, the relaxing sound of waves, a full-blown sonic boom, or a simulation of the morning sunrise, chances are there’s an alarm clock that’s sure to get your kid on their feet and out the door for school. Also, consider making it a challenge to hit the snooze button by putting the alarm clock across the room so they have to get up to turn it off.
Here are a few clocks heavy sleepers swear by!
Wake-Up Light Alarm: The ultimate natural sunlight alarm clock that helps you wake up naturally. Nature Alarm Clock with 6 Sounds: Get your teen moving with the relaxing sound of waves or birds chirping. Screaming Meanie Alarm Clock: Let his alarm clock be the meanie! This clock has 3 loudness levels so you can crank it up when they don’t wake up. Clocky: the only alarm clock that runs, hides, rolls away and even jumps on a nightstand. It’s annoying and crazy, but it actually works! Sonic Bomb Extra-Loud Alarm Clock with Flashing Alert Lights and Powerful Bed Shaker: Honestly, there’s no way your kid can sleep through this alarm clock!
4. Use a Sleep Cycle App
Sure, they’re tired. But, another reason your teen dreads slipping out of their cozy bed is the idea of having to spend the next seven hours in a classroom learning (booorrrrinnnggg). Make it as easy as possible for them by encouraging them to download a sleep cycle app that senses and regulates their sleep cycle so they wake up at precisely the right time.
Science has proven that waking up at the right point in your sleep cycle (the alternation of REM and non-REM sleep) will make you feel more rested than waking up in the middle of a cycle. Apps like Sleep Cycle, Sleep Better and Calm are all free apps that can help your teen get a great night’s sleep and wake up at just the right time.
5. Give Them Something to Look Forward To
When it comes to no-war ways to get your teen out of bed for school, this little tip works wonders!
Maybe it’s the smell of sizzling bacon in the kitchen, pancakes hot off the griddle, an array of aromatic essential oils in the shower, a quick morning workout with friends or something new to wear, give them a reason to crank it up in the morning and get their day started. Figure out what your teen loves and what motivates them and use it to spark a get-up-and-go positive attitude so they can start their day with a little pep in their step.
6. Stop the Caffeine Early in the Day
Teens are notorious for chugging energy drinks just to get through the day, treating themselves to a sweet, caffeinated Starbucks just because, and grabbing a Coke or Mountain Dew every time they’re thirsty. While those drinks might give them the much-needed energy boost they need during the day, they won’t do much to help them fall asleep or get a restful night’s sleep so they can wake up feeling refreshed.
To get a good night’s sleep they need to cut the caffeine out early in the day, which means no coffee, caffeinated tea, energy drinks, or even chocolate eight hours before bedtime.
7. Start the Day with a Convo with Your Bestie
When you’re looking for ways to get your teen out of bed for school, you have to get creative!
Enlisting the help of your teen’s besties to be their morning wake-up call could be just the ticket they need to jumpstart their day. Have friends take turns calling each other at a designated time to wake each other up.
Having the responsibility of waking your friend up at a certain time will be a big motivator to get moving and the snoozing friend on the other end is more likely to respond to a friend than a frustrated (potentially nagging) parent who’s tried everything to get their kid to wake up.
8. Don’t Let Weekends Derail Their Sleep Schedule
It’s all too tempting. As soon as Saturday hits, it’s time to turn off the alarm clock, enjoy their slumber and catch up on all the Zzzzz’s they missed out on during the week. But, as hard as it is to follow through with a consistent schedule – even on weekends – it will do them a world of good when it’s time to wake up for that early morning Monday class.
In fact, an inconsistent sleep schedule not only throws off your internal clock, but it can also cause irritability, mood swings (who needs more of those?), drowsiness, concentration and memory issues, and even a decline in cognitive skills. So, even if your teen works toward a more consistent sleep schedule a little at a time, they’ll be doing themselves a huge favor in the long run.