Five Secrets to Sleeping Well

Boy asleep with laptop

Your teen likes to stay up late but has to get up early for school. Sleep is critical at this age, so it’s important that you learn to help your teen sleep better.

Experts recommend most teenagers get between eight and a half and 10 hours of sleep every night—more than most adults need. However, teenagers are more likely to be night owls, and many teens have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. In addition to feeling groggy the next day, missing out on quality sleep can mean your child doesn’t learn as well at school, becomes more irritable and has trouble focusing.

Behavioral changes that help you sleep better are called sleep hygiene. Improve your teen’s sleep hygiene using these tips:

1. Cut out caffeine. When teenagers are running short on sleep, it can be tempting to down a cup of coffee or drink a soda to stay alert. However, caffeine after 4 p.m. can disrupt the sleep cycle even further and cause teens to feel even more tired the next day.

2. Shut down screens before bedtime. Whether from a television, computer or smartphone, the blue light of screens causes the body to have difficulty shutting down to go to sleep. Take televisions out of your teen’s bedroom, and encourage her to avoid using her computer or smartphone in the hours before bedtime.

3. Stick to a schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is crucial to developing good sleep habits. This includes on the weekends—a little bit of extra shut-eye is good, but more than two hours of extra sleep can put your teenager at a disadvantage.

4. Say no to naps. If your teen has time to lie down in the middle of the day for a snooze, make sure the nap doesn’t last more than about 45 minutes. Sleeping too much during the day can make it hard to fall asleep at night.

5. Stay far away from late meals. Large meals close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep. Try not to eat within a few hours of bedtime.

Time Management and Your Teenager

Even if your teenager has good sleep hygiene, it can be difficult to squeeze in eight or nine hours of sleep around homework, band practice, sporting events and his social life. It’s important to talk with your teen about good time management, and the importance of making room for things such as sleep, a regular exercise routine and healthy eating.

Monthly and weekly calendars, along with daily to-do lists, can help teens manage their time wisely. Teens also need to learn to say “no” to certain activities. It’s better to be totally committed to one or two extracurricular activities than to be halfway involved with five or six.

Sources:

understood.org, betterhealth.vic.gov.au, prohealthcare.org, sleepfoundation.org, history.vt.edu

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