Monday, March 6, 2023

Gen Z's sleepless suffering

I can nag with the best of them.

"When are you going to put those boxes away?"
"Make sure to actually eat during the school day."
"Please, please, please, get a good night's sleep."

My nagging doesn't work, and I bet any parent of a high schooler — and potentially younger kids too — can relate to the third nag. These kids are NOT getting enough sleep!

Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright have a full book about that called Generation Sleepless: Why Tweens and Teens Aren't Sleeping Enough and How We Can Help Them  (2022). I saw it on the shelves in my local library, felt it looked interesting and couldn't put it down. Should we parents take solace in the fact that it's not just our own kids who are sleep deprived, but the entirety of Gen Z?

My initial criticism is whether this topic warranted a full-length book and if there would be enough material for one. I found enough solid info new to me that I give it a thumbs up. Plus, I find our sleep-deprived kids a hugely important topic that deserves more contemplation and action plans.

Overworked academics, omnipotent technology, developing brains and early start times are the main reasons why Gen Z is sleepless. As parents, we have to assume that most schools will remain stuck in time and do nothing to address this, and it may even get worse.

I recently had two friends complain about the overload of homework their kids were receiving, and — get this — the kids were a kindergartner and first-grader! Homework probably should not exist in all grades, but especially not fourth grade and below, according to me.

So what can we parents do for our sleep-needy kids? Well, modeling helps. Generation Sleepless made me realize that parents often model poor sleep patterns and engage in ineffective communication with their kids. Nag, nag, nag. Totally ineffective.

The authors made me realize that a huge step with hoping my kids get better sleep was to have open, listen-focused conversations. Ultimately, I can't will them to proper sleep, but at least we can identify and label the problem.

Another big thing I realized from Generation Sleepless was how sleep is a process. We prepare for it before we actually sleep, and a lot of people look on their phone, or iPad, all the way up until actual sleep. That practically guarantees poor slumber. The brain can't cool down when that's happening.

Although I would try not to look at my phone in bed, that always didn't happen. I realized that the first thing I picked up in my day was the phone and the last thing I put down was the phone because I used it as an alarm clock. Generation Sleepless convinced me 100 percent to at least get an old-school alarm clock, and I absolutely love it.

I keep my cell phone out of my bedroom now, and I must report that my anxiety level is way down. I can't give full credit to the alarm clock and cell phone hanging out in another room, but that definitely has helped. 

So much occurs during sleep necessary for healthy living that I've learned not to take good sleep for granted. Thank God, I typically have restful, healthy sleep — especially when I have zero drops of alcohol in me. Caffeine messes with sleep, too, and I have a time cutoff for that.

Unfortunately, our kids put their schoolwork above sleep or think they're unwinding with their abundance of screen time. They're not. I guess Big Tech succeeded with getting our kids' attention, but we need to get our kids' attention back on themselves and their health.

1 comment:

  1. 11 to 7 is a good sleep routine, if you can stick to it; bathroom break may interfere. I do not function well without 7 hours nightly, so lights out at midnight can work, too.And watch the late hour meals. They can disrupt sleep. Sweet dreams!🤞