Sleeping Through The Change

Sleep and fatigue are always “top of the list” topics for me, especially since Diabetes and various other issues have seemingly kept me from proper nights’ sleep for decades. It was even more difficult through my teen years, when my body seemed to turn against me in every possible way. I remember finding myself unable to keep my eyes open in class, and would usually roll out of bed around lunchtime during the summer. Ah, those were the days.

But I used to get a lot of flack from my folks who would point out that they had the time to get out of bed and almost get a full days’ work done before I’d wake up. Often, attempts at getting me out of bed would go unanswered to the point that my mother would come check on me to ensure I wasn’t in some sort of Diabetic distress. That usually didn’t end well, considering I had some pretty tight-wound martial arts reflexes by the time I reached my teens. But I digress…

In general, people tend to consider teenagers “lazy” when they reach the stage in their growth where they seem to always be tired, lack enthusiasm and motivation to do much and always seem to be moody and temperamental. As with many things in life, there are two sides to every coin. In my case, this included the Diabetes side and the non-Diabetes side, making it all the more difficult than usual. Even from the non-Diabetes side of things, there are reasons why teenagers seem to hit an “energy slump” through their formative years.

According to an article posted by The Mayo Clinic, one of the reasons why a teenager may feel tired throughout the day is because their circadian rhythm gets scrambled by puberty. Circadian rhythm is the internal clock that controls our sleep cycles, hormonal changes and appetite. That’s why we always refer to teenagers as going through “changes,” because their circadian rhythm is all over the place, causing their bodies to delay when they get sleepy.

Another issues is that teenagers tend to rebel when they reach this part of their lives. The general consensus is that it’s better to stay up late when all the action happens and sleep late into the day. The latter part of that previous sentence rarely happens, with the need to get up for school, sports and jobs getting in the way of their sleep-related plans. And believe it or not, teenage bodies require approximately 10 hours of sleep, every night. And since teenagers very rarely get that much, they’re often sleep-deprived.

I’ve written plenty of posts on sleep and what happens when you don’t get enough. Some of the more common side effects include loss of focus and concentration, irritability and mood swings. Sounds like just about every teenager I’ve ever met, myself included. Granted, I had a lot of Diabetes-related issues tacked on top of the list, which is what I’ll get to next.

Insulin is technically a growth hormone. So on top of one’s own stew of teenage hormones, I had the added benefit of competing with fluctuating blood sugars, incorrect insulin doses and dietary issues. Not to mention that I had stomach ulcers as a kid… Thinking you’d die before the end of your teen years will do that. That pretty much made me a mess, when I was a teenager. Obviously, I gained some augery of control through those formative years or I wouldn’t be here.

The lesson here is that if you’re the parent of a teenager, Diabetic or not, the whole sleepy and lazy thing is normal. It’ll pass within a few years but you need to be patient in riding it out. In reality, it’s not ACTUALLY their fault. Except for the lack of sleep. They could totally contribute to more sleep if they weren’t so stubborn as to stay up half the night. But there are plenty of things that you can do to keep your cranky teen on the straight and narrow.

Having them develop a routine and sticking with it, is a good start. And they should definitely be avoiding naps, especially long ones. Although it seems to be a more common trend in recent years, caffeine is a big no-no for teenagers as their bodies are still developing and the last thing they need is stimulants. Obviously, time outdoors and a healthy dose of exercise is recommended at any age. But as a teenager it can help to tire them out and encourage a better bed time as well as helping to maintain their health. Not all teenagers are lazy; most are just slaves to hormones. ☯

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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