When it comes to teenagers, it may seem like they’re nocturnal—always wanting to stay up later and sleep well into the morning (or afternoon). It’s just part of being a kid, and we’ve all been there at some point. But when it comes to teens, a late bedtime can become a problem when school is in session. Whether they go to bed at 10:00 p.m. or 1:00 a.m., the alarm will still go off at 6:00, and it will be up to them to suffer the consequences.
Falling Asleep While Driving
Unfortunately, part of those consequences can and do involve auto accidents. Already the No. 1 cause of death among teenagers in America, drowsiness only adds fuel to an already burning fire as teenagers stumble out of bed, get behind the wheel and take a dangerous drive with half-open eyes.
According to research from Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), teens who average less than eight hours of sleep a night are twice as likely to report falling asleep while driving than those who had receive eight hours or more. The same research also indicates that 36 percent of teens often drive to school feeling drowsy in the morning. And, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), driving while sleepy is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent, which is illegal in many states. That means that even if they never take a sip, your teenager could be pulling onto the street in equally as much danger as if they were intoxicated.
It’s hard to get a teen to sleep as much as they should. According to the NSF, this age group needs slightly more than nine hours per night in order to function at their best. And, when combined with that natural desire to stay up late, their high activity level can also fight their sleep patterns. Balancing school, homework, sports, friends and a variety of volunteer or extracurricular activities can cause them to burn the midnight oil in order to keep up.
As a parent, there are ways you can help your child get the proper amount of sleep and allow them not only to perform better in school and feel better physically, but also to stay safe behind the wheel. And that will not only bless them, it will also bless you with greater peace of mind.
How to Stay Awake While Driving
The first and most obvious step is to establish a bedtime and curfews. Rules are often part of parenting, and establishing ones that help your teen stay well-rested can be the best way to guarantee their overall health. Studies have shown that teens who get enough sleep have better moods, greater learning ability, higher alertness, less anxiety, better memory recall, and many more positive short and long-term benefits. In fact, it’s been shown that well-slept teenagers are far less likely to be misdiagnosed with learning disabilities, which can be confused with the same low concentration effects of drowsiness.
Beyond rule-setting, it’s also important to help your teenager balance his or her schedule. With the number of activities available and the pressure to put together a good college resume, the temptation for them to do anything and everything can be great. In order to prevent them from burning out by being too involved, help them examine their schedules and determine which commitments to choose based on their available time and sincere interests. While activities outside of the classroom can be great experiences, too much of a good thing can lead to stress and lack of sleep.
Finally, if your teen has more trouble falling asleep than getting to bed, which can be the result of general life anxiety and emotions, help them create a peaceful area in which to sleep. Make sure their bedrooms are dark, cool and quiet so that falling asleep will be easier. Also, help them maintain physical health by feeding them nutritious foods and avoiding as much junk as possible.
When it comes to teenagers, sleep can be challenging, but the lack of it can be deadly. That’s why we at Meyer’s and Waterloo Automotive are raising the awareness flag. We hope that through this post you will be encouraged to examine your teen’s sleep routine and help them establish healthy habits that facilitate success in the classroom, on the field and, yes, on the road. Don’t let them climb behind the wheel with half-closed eyes. Do what you can to help them stay rested and know that you’ll be doing both you and them a favor.
To schedule your next auto appointment, contact Meyer’s Automotive or Waterloo Automotive today!