My 17-year-old son has a job where he works until 11pm+, is studying A-level Economics, is doing Python coding and will be taking on a Physics and Science course in September. After work he likes to play his guitar, do some studying and then go to bed sometimes as late as 4am. He then sleeps in until 1pm! Can you give advice on how to get him back on a normal sleep schedule?

Thank you for your question, this is a common issue for many teens. Given the multiple academic, social and work demands that are placed on teens it can be hard to find the time to actually sleep. However, persistent poor sleep can lead to a host of negative consequences including daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory problems and difficulty regulating emotions to name a few.

Just like anything else that is important to your teen, it is important to prioritize sleep and make sure that they can reserve at least 8 hours within their busy schedule. I would recommend asking your teen to look at their daily schedule and purposefully add sleep on to their daily list of tasks. If they do not have enough room for an 8-hour sleep period, then it would be helpful for you to help them brainstorm ways to revise their schedule to fit sleep in. For example, you may encourage your teen to reduce their work hours or revise their work schedule so that they are not getting home super late at night.

Secondly, it is natural for teens to want to go to bed late and wake up late, however, this preference can be discordant with the demands of a traditional day. So, as you help your teen to prioritize sleep, developing a consistent nighttime routine, including a consistent bedtime before midnight and an appropriate rise time, can help them become more productive throughout the day. Also remember to tell your teen to refrain from napping during the day, if possible, to allow the natural progression of their sleep need to reach its peak at night, leading to an easier transition into sleep.


Tyish Hall Brown Tyish Hall Brown, PhD, is an associate professor and the director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine within the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine.

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