Rousing a teenager from her bed sometimes feels like trying to wake the dead. When you're shaking her awake after only a few hours of sleep, the task is even harder. Clanging a pair of cymbals together next to her ear will get her up and moving, but it's a miserable way to start her day. Instead, help her improve her sleeping habits so waking up will be easier, and look for some creative ways to help her ease into a new day without starting yours on a stressful note.
Make a wake-up plan at night. Tell your teenager, "You need to be out of bed by 6:45. I will come in and give you a warning at 6:30, and will come back at 6:45. At that point it's your job to get yourself up and into the shower." Ask your teen whether some other system would work better for her. For instance, she might prefer you only give her a warning and let her get up on her own, or that you give her two warnings.
Expose her to bright light when it's almost time for her to wake up. According to the National Sleep Foundation, such exposure is energizing in the morning. Turn on her overhead light and open the curtains (if it's light outside) when you first go in to wake her up. Turn on a desk lamp and point it toward her bed if she needs more motivation. You might even buy her a light therapy box that simulates dawn, according to MayoClinic.com. Set this box to turn on before she wakes up and have it gradually get brighter as her wake-up time approaches.
Shake her gently and remind her of your plan. Say something along the lines of, "It's almost time to get up, you have 15 more minutes." Leave her room with the lights still on and the door open so the noise of other family members will help her wake up.
Provide her with an effective alarm clock or two. Set up alarm clocks across the room from her bed so she has to get out from under the covers to turn them off. Choose a clock that docks her MP3 player and plays her music as an alarm, or if she's a heavier sleeper, pick one with an obnoxious blaring sound that she can't ignore when it's time to climb out of bed.
Use creative methods to get her up if her alarms don't do the trick. Deposit the family dog or cat on the bed to climb around on top of her, or send in a younger sibling to chatter at her until she gets up. Run a towel-covered ice cube across her forehead or start singing an obnoxious song, with the promise that you won't stop until her feet are on the floor.
Consider using natural consequences if she doesn't get up after you've woken her. According to the Iowa State University Extension, letting her learn from her own actions helps a teen learn self-discipline. Oversleeping might mean she misses the opportunity to get a ride to school with a friend and has to take the bus, or she could run out of time to shower and primp before she leaves for school. You might even let her oversleep to the point that she has to get herself to school late and deal with consequences from her teachers. Though it's your job to ensure she goes to school, for some teens, the panic and embarrassment of being late just once is enough to get her up from then on.
Items you will need
- Alarm clock
- Improving your teenager's morning routine starts at night. The average teenager requires about nine hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation, but few teens actually clock that much rest. She'll be far easier to wake in the morning if she gets enough sleep at night, so consider enforcing bedtime or moving her established bedtime up. Rid her room of stimulating electronics and dim the lights in the home in the hour before her bedtime to prepare her for sleep.
- If she can't fall asleep at the bedtime you set, the University of Michigan Health System recommends waking her up 10 minutes or so earlier each morning. She'll eventually be tired enough to fall asleep at an earlier hour.
- Letting her sleep until noon on weekends will disrupt her sleep pattern during the week, says Dr. Dennis Rosen, assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School. To keep her on a consistent schedule, wake her up on weekend mornings at a time close to her weekday morning wake-up time.
- While using natural consequences can be effective, it's important to only use them when it's not harmful or dangerous to the child, says the ISU Extension. Making a teenager who missed the bus walk to school over a long distance or across busy roads, for instance, is not safe, and leaving a young teen alone at home while you leave for work isn't wise either. Some teenagers who aren't motivated to go to school might also be perfectly happy to miss the entire day, and shouldn't be allowed to do so.
- Consult her doctor if your teen regularly struggles to fall asleep or wake up in the morning. Issues such as depression can affect her sleep patterns.
- SleepFoundation.org: Americans' Bedrooms Are Key to Better Sleep According to New National Sleep Foundation Poll
- MayoClinic.com: Light Therapy
- Extension.IAState.edu: Natural Consequences
- SleepFoundation.org: Sleep and Teens
- Med.UMich.edu: Sleep Problems
- Health.Harvard.edu: Why "Sleeping in" on Weekends isn't Good for Teens
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