Family Time Can Support Teens’ Sleep

Convincing a teen to spend time with mom or dad instead of the computer can be challenging, but it is worth the effort, researchers suggest. Teens who hang out with parents before bedtime tend to go to sleep earlier and get more Zzzs.

Previous research published in the journal Pediatrics has shown that many young people don’t get enough sleep – an issue that could lead to worse grades and poor emotional health, according to the journals Sleep Medicine and Scientific American Mind.

In a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, scientists wanted to find out what might be keeping teenagers up, so they looked at how 146 teens spent their time in the evenings.

The scientists monitored the kids’ sleep during the last week of a school term and two weeks of vacation. The researchers asked how often the teens read books, did schoolwork, played video games, browsed the web, used social media, or hung out with their families in the hours before sleeping.

During vacation, the kids spent less time listening to music, going online and using social media before bedtime, and more time watching TV and hanging out with friends.

Playing video games before bed contributed to later bedtimes and less shuteye.

During the school semester, teens who spent their evenings with family tended to go to bed earlier and sleep longer than those who spent pre-bedtime hours in other ways. The results “support a strong protective role of family involvement in adolescents’ sleep duration on school nights,” according to the study.

The exact reasons aren’t clear. The researchers speculate that parents who spend time with their teenagers in the evening may have the power to impose earlier bedtimes, and may restrict video games and other screen time before bedtime.