… Losing Sleep Over It

blue soapbox  A recent front-page article in the S.F. Chronicle explained a crucial connection between inadequate sleep and depression among teens.  Rather than merely being a hallmark of depression, as was previously thought, sleep deprivation may actually be one cause of the condition.

I must have needed some comic relief after taking in the body of this sobering article, because by the time I got to the tips from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine on “how to raise a well-rested teen,” I was laughing so hard, I thought I was reading the Onion.  Raise a teen?  As if.  (Heck, you can’t even rear one.  But I pedantically digress…)

My sons are both in college now, but I couldn’t help amusing myself by thinking about what would have happened had I intervened a few years ago in the ways the experts recommend.

Set a bedtime that allows for nine hours of sleep.

Me:  Boys, you have to wake up at seven.  From now on, please turn your lights out at 9:45 so you can be asleep by ten.

Evan:  [doesn’t dignify the topic with a response]

Reuben:  Mom, are you hallucinating again?

Encourage consistency, even on the weekends.

Me:  Boys!  Time to get up!  It’s seven, and I’m Encouraging Consistency!

Me:  Boys!  Time to get up!  It’s eight, and I’m trying to Encourage Consistency!

Me:  Boys!  It’s after noon!  Never mind about that consistency thing!  Could you please just cooperate, so I can retain a shred of dignity as a parent?

Plan ahead:  prepare for school the night before.

Wait, now I’m supposed to do my kids’ homework?  It’s way too hard for me.

Set a curfew on phone use, e-mails, texting, etc.

What’s that famous quote about an unenforceable law breeding contempt for all laws?

Limit after-school activities.

Me:  Reuben, I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to cut down on violin lessons during the week.

Reuben:  YESSS!  [leaps for joy]

Me:  And Evan, you need to reduce your homework time.  For your own health, sweetie, please taper down from insufficient to none at all.

Evan:  Great minds, Mom—I’ve been thinking the same thing.

Limit weeknight chores.

Ah, but how am I going to break the news?

Look, I’m all in favor of educating teens about depression, and about the choice they’re making when they favor texting, iPods, Facebook, socializing and late-night cramming over REMs.  But should we parents buy into the ridiculous idea that if we could only follow some helpful hints, we’d be able to control our children?

I can’t be the only well-meaning mother who has literally lost sleep trying to figure out what to insist on, what to guide, and what to let be.

Hmm… are sleep-deprived moms more susceptible to depression?  Just wondering.

Published in the Piedmont Post, December 2, 2009

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: