Got teenagers? Study says be sure to get some sleep

A new study says parents of teenagers need to get better rest. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — Want to be a better parent to your teenager? You might need to get a better night’s sleep.

Mothers getting inadequate or poor quality of sleep tend to be more lax and more often inconsistent when enforcing discipline with their adolescents, according to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

“It may be that they’re more irritable, experiencing impaired attention, or so overtired that they are less consistent in their parenting,” said  Kelly Tu in a news release. Tu is a human development and family studies researcher at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Tu said parental involvement when kids are 11 to 18-years-old is important in helping them adjust socially, emotionally and behaviorally. Also, she said previous research has shown a link between permissive parenting and children being susceptible to risky behaviors such as vandalism, skipping school and associating with deviant or delinquent peers.

The study, published on Monday, compared the sleep patterns of 234 mothers with data taken from questionnaires filled out by kids who were on average, 15-years-old. The children rated their mothers’ parenting styles by rating the degree to which they were “likely or not likely” to react in certain ways.

Example statements included:

  • “Lets me off easy when I do something wrong,”
  • “Can’t say no to anything I want,”
  • “Doesn’t check up to see whether I have done what she told me.”

Race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status were significant factors in linking quality of sleep with permissive parenting, according to the study.

“But what’s exciting is that we also find positive effects of high-quality sleep on parenting behaviors for ethnic minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged mothers,” Tu said.

Much like people on a plane are advised to put their own oxygen masks on before assisting others, Tu believes parents need to be diligent about taking care of themselves. She recommends not drinking caffeine or exercising too close to bedtime, establishing a bedtime routine, and making sure the bedroom environment is conducive to sleep.

“Parents may be thinking about these things when it comes to their children, but it’s just as important for parents to get enough sleep, as it may impact their family interactions and children’s well-being,” Yu said.

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