Body clocks

Over recent months, my eldest has become increasingly nocturnal. He’s a teenager. It’s what they do, a normal part of their development. He will often still be banging around his room at 11.30pm. My younger son too has been letting his bedtime slide to around 10.30. It’s something I’ve let go and chosen not to fight with them about, as it’s something I seem to have no control over.

But over the Christmas holidays, it slipped too far. My younger son was still awake at 11.30 and my eldest? He would often see 12.30. New Year’s Eve was a particular low point, when I heard him talking on the phone at 1.45am. Yes, I’d forgotten to confiscate his phone that night.

My daughter has an ongoing battle with sleep and low level anxiety. She goes to bed, she can’t get to sleep, she worries, she can’t get to sleep… Most days it takes her about 45 minutes from getting into bed, but a couple of days a week it takes longer and she starts to get stressed and tearful. I used to sit outside her room, but then my husband banned it. She coped OK for a while, but then I started having to put her in our bed to settle her. Usually she would be asleep before we went to bed, or before my husband went to bed, and we could move her back to her own bed. On New Year’s Eve, that was never going to happen, so she slept in our bed all night.

The kids coped fine with these late nights over Christmas. Because the boys were getting up at 11. I got my daughter up at 8 or 8.30 most days, to try to break her cycle of bad sleeping, but on New Year’s Day she got up at 10.30.

But one person didn’t cope well with it. One person can’t change their body clock to going to bed late and getting up late. One person wakes up at 5 regardless of how many times she’s been disturbed by a tearful daughter or a teenage son on the phone.

Over the course of the holidays I found the difference in our body clocks increasingly frustrating. I go stir crazy if I’ve not been out in the fresh air by 11am, but my kids hadn’t even had their breakfasts. They didn’t want me nagging them and telling them to get dressed because it was the holidays, but I needed my lunch! Then at 10.30pm as I was falling asleep in front of the TV I still had to contend with two hyper boys and a stressed out girl.

My disturbed sleep and meal patterns caused by my kids’ changed body clocks left me feeling stressed out and unhappy. But still I couldn’t sleep any longer in the mornings.

And it’s going to get a lot worse as they get older, isn’t it? How do other parents cope?

Body clocks, Sleep, Family

Author: Sarah Mummy

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24 Comments

  1. Hopefully school will knock a lot of them right. Talking till 1.45am is impressive. I was going to say I never did that but then I didn’t have my first phone till I was 19. I think they go through a phase where they’ll gladly stay in bed till 1pm if you let them and they end up having brekkie whilst you’re having an afternoon cuppa, or at least I did!

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    • It’s alien to me because I never did this as I always had a paper round and worked in shops, so always had to get up early. I think school will straighten them back out a bit.
      I was 26 when I got my first phone!

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  2. Leave them to it and go to bed. Mine are a bit older at 18 (who obviously can do as he pleases as long as he doesn’t wake everyone else up) and almost 14. They still have to get up for school and college at 7.15, and I will wake them up. It really does seem that teens don’t need as much sleep.
    I don’t allow the sleeping in at weekends either, everyone is up and dresses by 9am. The 13yr old has park run on Saturday and rugby on Sunday so he never gets a lay in. My daughter who is 9, has dance and swimming on a Saturday and hockey on Sunday so again need to be up and about by 9, usually earlier. The 18yr old has work on a Saturday and Sunday, so he’s up as well.
    I find it catches up on then and they will have at least one night a fortnight where they are asleep by 7.30pm and sleep until the alarm goes off.
    I usually am in bed for 10pm and my husband not much after that, sometimes before 10. I really don’t get on with being tired and need my sleep. Luckily my daughter will happily lay in bed reading her book until she falls asleep. he goes to bed at around 8pm, usually asleep for 8.45.

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    • Thank you for such a long response, I really appreciate it! We actually have two kids of the same age. It’s interesting to hear that you manage to get your teens up and ready by 9am. As a teenager I always did paper rounds and worked weekends in shops, so never had lie-ins. I know it’s the teenage way, but I don’t think it’s actually necessary!
      We do usually do Parkrun on Saturday though (well, I always do and the 9 and 14yos often do!).

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  3. I know exactly where you’re coming from with this as my daughters appear to inhabit an entirely different time zone to mine. I’ve long given up trying to stay awake and go to bed when I need to. Here’s hoping the children go to bed at a reasonable time now they’re back at school.
    Happy New Year Sarah x

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    • Thanks very much! I guess you definitely get to the point where you leave them to their own devices. I’m pretty much there with eldest, but my daughter definitely still needs me at bedtime! x

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  4. My youngest daughter sounds very like yours – she has never been a great sleeper and also has anxiety over it. I’m quite similar myself so understand but my husband sleeps anywhere, anytime and it annoys the hell out of him! I do wonder at watch age she will give up coming into our room at midnight, she’s 14! I do feel for you though, I’m not sure there are any answers, other than going to bed before them. I guess we will have to get used to that at some point but at 12 and 14, it feels a bit young to leave them to their own devices, I guess. Mine are going later and later too, although skiing has knackered them out somewhat!

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    • Over the holidays I was going to bed before the boys (only slightly before the 12yo), but there’s no way I will do that with my daughter! It must be hard to still have your daughter worrying at midnight at her age, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t us in a few years, as her issues don’t seem to be going away!

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  5. I have literally no advice. My girl sleeps amazing. My boy dreadful. I get up at 5am regardless of what has happened during the night. It drives my potty, I would love to sleep in till at least 630! That would be an actual lie in! x

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    • 6.30 would be a lie-in for me too! I remember when my kids got up at 5 and it was a killer! At least with only me awake at that time of day I can ease myself into the day at my own pace! x

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  6. I am super early riser and get well irriitated if breakfast not all done by 8.30 have to really rein myself in!!!! happy new year!

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    • Ha ha, I love that! That’s what I would like to be like really!

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  7. Our routines have been totally out over the holidays and I am struggling to get back into a routine – I hope things settle down for you, and especially your daughter soon.

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    • Thanks very much! The routines are getting back to normal slowly, thank goodness!

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  8. I used to sleep in a lot but inspired by your early starts (even if the are unintentional) I decided to get up earlier. I tend to be asleep by 10.30 pm myself and I could sleep until midday if I wasn’t woken by an alarm or small child. Like Suzanne’s husband, I can sleep anywhere at any time. Some days if I am bored (which is rare these days) I go back to bed even if I am not tired or poorly simply to pass the time! I hope once they are back into the routine of school your children start settling a little earlier!

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    • Thanks very much, they’re getting there gradually! It’s great to hear that you’ve been inspired by my early starts! I definitely think early morning is the best part of the day.

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  9. I usually let my kids be during school holidays but it’s back to routine too weeks before we go back to school. My older kids’ patterns are definitely changing but I’ve noticed that mine has changed quite a bit as well. I used to be a late sleeper and late riser but now I am asleep before 10 and awake by 6am. I am usually rearing to go out and start my day but my kids are still asleep. So now I just do my own thing. Yes, disabling wifi and confiscating devices should also work! Good luck!

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    • It’s good to hear that you just do your own thing in the mornings! I think by next summer I should be able to leave all of the kids if I want to go for a run or walk while they’re asleep. That will make me much happier!

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  10. I know exactly what you mean about the late nights and I have a 13 year old who is exactly the same.

    I’m quite relaxed about bedtimes and as long as she gets up in the morning and isn’t grumpy and exhausted then I’m OK with it. There’s going to be bigger battles to fight than bedtimes 😉

    My ten year old is a different matter though as he needs his sleep a lot more and tends to dwell and worry about things at bedtime – I find an audio book brilliant to settle him most nights x

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    • So many people have told me audio books are good for settling kids. This is definitely something I need to look into! Thanks.

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  11. Oh gosh, I am like you and have to be out doing something!! I have to admit, I am not relishing the teenage years.

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  12. My teen is a fab sleeper and some nights he is going to sleep at the same time as my 10 year old. He tends to go up between 9.30pm and 10pm and will usually take him around 15 minutes to get to sleep. Daughter on the other hand does not need much sleep. Lights off at 9pm but she is rarely asleep before 10pm. Infact before she rattled off a full conversation me and the husband had last night (around 10.30pm). Thankfully it wasn’t very interesting lol but she was still wigging upstairs rather than go to sleep. We also take all media devices away from the kids about half an hour before they go to sleep x

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    • I’m very jealous of you having a teen like that! Your daughter sounds similar to mine though. I always say I’m going to take their devices off them, but sometimes I forget! x

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  13. I must admit that I’m not too worried about late nights just yet it is the early mornings for me. My daughter has always been awake by 6am no matter what time she goes to bed, I’m honestly looking forward to teenage years when hopefully she will sleep a little longer.

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