My Son Sleeps All Day and Is Up All Night? Here’s What to Do

Your son sleeping during the day and keeping up at night disrupts their body’s circadian rhythm. Compromising this can not only ruin one’s mood, health, and even shorten their life expectancy. Your son needs eight hours of sleep at night – and we do mean at night.

Sleeping during the day – even for the same number of hours they would at night – tends to lead to poorer quality of rest. Correcting this behavior can be challenging, but it’s doable with enough planning, effort, and determination!

Wean them off things that might be keeping them up, such as caffeine or even electronic devices. Ease them into this new schedule gently – slow and steady is safer for your son. Abrupt changes could stress them out and set their progress back greatly.

The issue could also be rooted in emotional concerns, so be sure to check in on their mental health from time to time. Lastly, consider professional help if the problem persists.

This process can take a while, but a few months of difficult changes could add years to your son’s life. It’s well worth the effort trying to fix their sleep cycle, so work on it as soon as possible.

Curb Their Caffeine

man talking notes with coffee on the table

Caffeine is commonly found in energy drinks, soda, tea, and coffee. It serves as a potent stimulant that can hamper one’s sleep cycle drastically. The worst part is that it can take upwards of four hours for our body to metabolize the substance completely.

Caffeine inhibits melatonin production, which in turn impairs our body’s ability to rest soundly. Curb their intake of any caffeinated products at least four hours before bedtime.

We’d strongly recommend introducing this change gradually. Your son definitely won’t be receptive to the idea, and such drastic changes could compromise your whole plan to help them.

While caffeine isn’t illegal, it can cause difficult dependence issues as users develop a tolerance to the substance. Pulling the plug on your son’s intake could lead to issues such as headaches, nausea, irritability, poor focus, and anxiety.

These would already be difficult on their own, but your son would have to cope with all this on top of their distorted sleep cycle. You won’t win their cooperation by subjecting them to that – and you do need their cooperation to help them break their unhealthy sleep habits.

Forcing them to cut caffeine entirely – even just for nighttime – will be unpleasant. They’ll either deal with it in a daze or try to sneak something caffeinated into their room without you knowing. Both choices are far from ideal, so don’t be too hasty in enforcing the change.

Instead, wean them off their caffeine dependence slowly. Work towards a compromise, incorporating their input where it helps.

We’d recommend suggesting a reduction in how much caffeine they’d drink at night. Follow it up by establishing a cutoff time both of you can accept. Let them contribute to this discussion, and give them some negotiating power for these terms.

You aren’t insisting on a new schedule for them to follow. You’re trying to solve a problem with their help, and they need to feel you’re doing this for their own good. Allow them some control over how their healing process goes, but be firm about enforcing the plan you both agreed on.

Try providing them with healthier alternatives to displace their old habits. Maybe give them a glass of warm milk rather than brewed coffee before bed, for starters. Provide them with a few helpful options and let them choose what they’ll be using to kick their habit.

This arduous process could take weeks or even months, so strive to make it as comfortable as you can for your son. 

Limit Their Electronics

woman checking her phone while working on laptop

Electronics can hamper the body’s natural rest cycle by not only disrupting melatonin production but also actively engaging your teen’s mind with new, disruptive stimuli. This may lead to random interruptions in their sleep cycle and poorer overall quality of rest.

Most electronic devices, by default, produce artificial blue light that blocks melatonin production in the body. While there are filters that can reduce this effect, they won’t do anything to mitigate the other engaging stimuli present.

Limit their general electronic exposure – especially when it’s close to curfew. We’d recommend barring electronic usage for at least an hour before bed. This gives their body and brain ample time to settle down. It can take a while for them to get used to the change, though.

You can offset their need for engagement with books or quality time with family. Additionally, some people report having more restful sleep with music. It may be worth letting them listen to some tunes before bed – just be sure to set their playlist on a timer!

DON’T Try Solving the Issue With Sleeping Pills

While it may seem strange, sleeping pills are never the solution for ruined sleep cycles.

Sleeping pills are prescribed mainly for short-term usage, giving users a restful night or two. They don’t do anything to fix offset circadian rhythms, and prolonged use risks further compromising their sleep cycle.

Sleeping pills also vary greatly in components. Allergies, side effects, and other health concerns are notorious for this type of product. Common complaints include vertigo, impaired motor function, slowed breathing, and disorientation.

In extreme cases, users may run the risk of incurring liver, kidney, or heart conditions. These typically come from prolonged use or extreme doses, but still need to be considered.

A safer alternative can be found with melatonin supplements. These promote restful sleep with fewer side effects than sleeping pills, but this comes at the cost of being less potent.

Neither melatonin nor sleep medication lends itself well to long-term sleep schedule changes – that would necessitate lifestyle changes. Trying to recuperate in that regard takes time and effort, and unfortunately, sleep aids aren’t a feasible shortcut back to healthy living.

Check On Their Emotional Health

father having a pep talk with son

Another potential source of disrupted sleep could be long-term emotional duress. This can come from school, friends, or even family members. No matter the source, this concern needs to be noticed and acknowledged before proper treatment can be commenced.

Your son sleeping all day and staying up all night could be a byproduct of them coping with difficult things. Restful sleep won’t be achievable until your son gets their peace of mind back.

Be sure to check in on your son – make them understand that you’re there for them. Show compassion and warmth while validating their concerns. You don’t need to understand what bothers them, but you do need to care.

Grant Them Concessions from Time To Time

Your son’s sleep schedule is being upended by all these changes. Even if you have the best of intentions – heck, even if they understand all of this is for their own good – this ordeal remains difficult to bear.

There will be days your son struggles with their mood. They might be groggy and exhausted. They could even be a little prickly and say something they didn’t think through. Your son could end up upsetting you even without realizing their mistake.

That doesn’t mean you should give them a free pass. Hold them accountable for their actions, but try to understand the strain they’re under trying to better themselves. Show them some consideration as they struggle through this taxing ordeal.

Social Life

It’s also worth noting that some children change their sleep schedules to accommodate their friends. While they shouldn’t make a habit of this, a few exceptions where you let them stay up a little later than their curfew wouldn’t be bad for them.

As usual, you want to communicate and negotiate the extent of these privileges with your son. The most effective discipline comes with making the person actually care about following the plan, but insisting on too many restrictions would make them unlikely to cooperate.

In fact, doing this on top of disregarding their inputs would greatly hinder the likelihood they’d continue at all, wasting all the positive changes and progress they’ve made.

Seek Professional Help

While parents mean well, they won’t always be the best people to handle their child’s specific needs – lacking time, knowledge, or experience.

Acknowledging your limitations here won’t make you any less of a parent. There are thousands of professionals capable of providing your child with the technical care they need.

Somnologists, colloquially known as sleep doctors, are specialists that focus on treating issues pertaining to sleep. They’re trained specifically to investigate and identify the problem at hand, then provide ample treatment to bolster one’s quality of rest.

Even that specialization further branches into more specific branches, with treatment varying greatly. For the sake of expediency, we’ll break them down into two broad divisions.

If your son’s problem is a matter of emotional duress, seek out a sleep psychologist. They’re equipped to deal with disordered sleep, emotional stressors, and other cognitive inhibitions.

If your son just has issues sleeping all day and staying up all night – free of emotional concerns –a sleep medicine specialist may be a better choice. These individuals receive supplementary training to diagnose and prescribe medication for sleep-related disorders.

Final Thoughts

Fixing your son’s sleep schedule should be prioritized. Other facets of their life and health will be directly affected the longer this goes on. It’s important to frame the issue as something both of you are working on, rather than just new standards being imposed on them.

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