Most parents don’t realize that their teenagers are falling short on sleep. Bad habits, like scrolling through social media late at night, means they are likely struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, resulting in chronic sleep deprivation. Take a look at these 12 sleep tips for teens that will help them stay healthy and well-rested.
How Much Sleep Do Teens Need?
How do you know if your teenager is logging enough hours each night? Most teenagers only get about 6 to 7 hours of sleep, which is not nearly enough. Teens need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep every night. The ideal number is 9 hours.
During puberty, a teenager’s internal clock is set to fall asleep later, usually around 11pm. So considering they need about 9 hours of sleep, this would mean a wake up time of 8am. With many teenagers having to be at school at that time, or even sooner, an early wake up cuts off their sleep, creating a nightly sleep debt. Constantly missing out on hours of sleep leads to sleep deprivation. Read on for a list of signs to look out for.
8 Signs of Sleep Deprivation in Teens
Poor sleep is linked to a multitude of problems. Sleep deprivation impacts your teen’s overall health as well as their performance in school, sports, or after-school activities. Here are 8 signs that may help you recognize if your teenager is sleep-deprived.
- Poor attendance in school
- Mental health issues such as anxiety or depression
- A change in weight
- Being unable to retain information
- Mood changes such as lack of energy or feeling cranky
- A change in their relationships with others
- Engaging in more risk-taking behaviors
- A lack of focus, made more dangerous when driving
12 Sleep Tips for Teens
Now that you know how a lack of sleep can affect your teenager, you can take action. These 12 sleep tips for teens will help them get their sleep back on track.
1. Ditch the devices
Light from screens interferes with sleep. It actually tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime. Screens in the bedroom can lead to distraction. Make sure to turn off your phone, computer, tablet, or TV at least an hour before bedtime. One great way to avoid this is to plug in your devices before bed out of reach, or ideally in another room.
2. Make your bedroom sleep-friendly
Create the perfect space to get ready for sleep. First, your bed should be for sleeping only. Create a cozy lounging spot somewhere else in your room for reading, doing homework, or hanging out. Aim for a bedroom that is dark and quiet. Invest in blackout curtains or an eye mask. Use a sound machine to block out extra noise. Temperature also matters, so be sure to keep your room cool, using a fan if needed.
3. Set a routine
Creating a relaxing pre-bedtime routine will help you get ready for sleep in no time. Chill out and clear your thoughts by listening to calming music, meditating, or doing some yoga or gentle stretching. Take a hot shower or bath about 20 minutes before bed and enjoy a warm milky beverage or decaf tea. You can also indulge in some aromatherapy with scents like lavender, chamomile, or orange blossom.
4. Try melatonin
Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone that signals our brains to sleep. For most of us, melatonin is released earlier in the evening, between 8 and 10pm. But for teens, it’s released later. They may not be sleepy until 11pm or even midnight. Talk to your child’s doctor about starting melatonin to help reset their body’s internal clock and to go over any possible side effects.
5. Eat before bedtime
Avoid going to bed hungry or too full. Both can affect your quality of sleep. If you’re typically hungry at bedtime, make sure to eat something at least 2 hours beforehand to make sure you have food in your stomach. Eating too close to bedtime can lead to stomach discomfort. When it comes to bedtime snacks, think high-carb, such as graham crackers, pretzels, cereal, fruit, or popcorn.
6. Avoid caffeine
Avoiding all caffeine after 2pm each day, things such as coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks will help make sure you are tired at bedtime. Consuming too much caffeine makes it more difficult to fall asleep, and reduces the amount of restorative deep sleep you get. Instead, switch to decaf beverages and be sure to drink plenty of water.
7. Stick to a schedule
Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will help you avoid disrupting your body’s clock. So it’s important to set a sleep schedule and then stick to it to train your brain that sleep is coming soon. First, decide on a reasonable bedtime. Set an alarm about 45 minutes beforehand to remind you it’s almost time for bed. This goes for waking up too – avoid sleeping in on weekends or days you don’t need to be somewhere.
8. Don’t watch the clock
If you’re waking up during the night, it’s tempting to look at your clock or phone to see what time it is. If you are constantly checking the time, you’re worrying about how much sleep you’re not getting, which can make you more anxious and less sleepy. If you have a bedside clock, turn it around at bedtime to avoid the temptation, or keep your phone out of reach.
9. Get active
Aiming for at least an hour of movement or exercise each day can greatly improve your sleep. Regular exercise will help you sleep more soundly at night. If you can, get some fresh air and exercise outdoors to help your mood and ease your stress levels.
10. Address any problems
Whether it’s school or your social life, avoiding stressors can actually make sleep harder to achieve. Tackle what’s causing stress and talk things through with someone you trust. Making a to-do list before bed helps to reduce mental clutter. Take care of any big tasks right away, ideally as soon as you get home for the day.
11. The power of sunlight
Don’t underestimate the power of sunlight when it comes to a good night’s sleep. Get outside during the day and soak up the daylight. Start your day by turning on lights or opening up your blinds to get the most light possible. For bedtime, it’s the exact opposite. Make your space dark by dimming the lights or shutting your blinds to signal your brain that it’s almost time for sleep.
12. Be consistent!
It’s OK to have a bad night once in a while. That’s just part of life. The most important thing is to be consistent. Don’t try to fix things by napping, sleeping in, or avoiding your usual activities. This can actually make things worse. If you do have a bad night and miss out on sleep, be sure to get back to your normal routine the next day.
Make sure to share these 12 sleep tips for teens with your teenager. Talk with them to help them find the motivation to make a change. Working together, you can improve their sleep patterns and ensure a better night’s sleep.