Until now, it has generally been accepted that biology has explained the sleep patterns of a teenager sufficiently and that their nocturnal behaviour is dictated by the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. However, recent studies suggest that nurture, rather than nature, is the deciding factor and that those teens who have involved, tentative parental figures and feel appreciated at school, will generally get a better night's sleep.
The Journal Of Health and Social Behaviour published the findings in December, advising that social ties and relationships with loved ones impact heavily on sleep patterns and it was Professor David Maume, of the University of Cincinnati, that conducted and developed the study. Establishing a bedtime is essential in maintaining an 8-9 hour night of sleep, David says, and similar to preventing drug and alcohol abuse, sleep can too become a problem without parents implementing moral guidelines and being involved in their teens lives.
Feeling like a valued 'pro-social' group member, be it at school or in outside activities, also had a positive effect on sleep behaviour in teenagers. David's Maume's research suggests that rather than prescription drugs being the first resort in combating a bad nights sleep, we need to look into the adolescent psyche and at their developmental and social support system. Explore, instead, counselling or, ideally, greater parental involvement.