9 Quick Tips To Help Teens Sleep Well

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Is Your Teen Getting Enough Sleep?

BY AMANDA HALE

We all know how important sleep is to health and wellbeing, and this is even more critical for teenagers. Sleep is essential to promote their healthy development, and lack of sleep can create a range of academic, social and emotional problems.

Is your teen sleep deprived?

Is your teen sleep deprived?

Sleep deprivation will interfere with a teenager’s ability to concentrate at school and can further compromise their already limited capacity for decision-making. This can lead to risk taking behaviour or other self-destructive activities. Their overall enthusiasm and motivation can also be affected, and they may be less willing to participate in physical activity. Sleep deprivation can directly affect mood, contributing to moodiness, aggression or depression.

What’s tricky with teenagers is that hormonal changes lead to shifts in circadian rhythms. Left to their natural biological rhythm, teenagers will go to bed late (around midnight) and sleep in, waking late morning. But teens can’t listen to their natural signals, because this sleep schedule doesn’t fit with their school timetable. Going to bed early enough to get up in time for school is a constant battle for teens, and biologically counterintuitive.

If you want your teenager to get more sleep, don’t argue with them about bedtime! Even if everything you say is right, your teen probably won’t follow your plan simply because it’s your plan. Instead, talk to your teen and help them problem solve solutions that will help them get enough sleep. Some ideas are listed below.

Tip #1

Try not to overload their schedule during the week. Allow some days with nothing in the afternoons to allow your teen to unwind.

Tip #2

Problem solve ways to make your teens bedroom a calm and peaceful place. Limiting noise, screens and lights will assist in promoting restful sleep.

Tip #3

Decide together on an appropriate amount of ‘wind down’ time between stimulating activities (homework, television, computer games) and sleep.

Tip #4

Avoid early morning appointments, classes or training sessions where possible

Tip #5

Encourage your teen to get homework out of the way when they come home from school, rather than leaving it until late at night

Tip #6

Encourage an early night on Sundays for a refreshing start to the week.

Tip #7

Allow your teen to sleep in on weekends.

Tip #8

Consider sharing some relaxation techniques (deep breathing, mindfulness) that they can try out before going to sleep to prepare their body to wind down.

Tip #9

Educate your teen on the effects of caffeine on the body and sleep, encouraging them to limit caffeine in the afternoon/evening – that includes tea, coffee, coke and chocolate

Amanda Hale is a registered psychologist and a Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) Candidate at the Australian National University. She enjoys working with children, adolescents and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, eating disorders, weight management and interpersonal and adjustment difficulties.