Are you worried about your teen’s grogginess, inability to pay attention in class, or frequent nap sessions? It could be that they are sleep deprived. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the majority of teens are not getting the sleep they need on school nights. But don’t worry, we have a bunch of proven methods to help your teen get a good night’s sleep.
How Much Sleep do Teens Need?
Studies show that at the bare minimum, teenagers need 8 hours of sleep to be well-rested. However, many teens need up to 10 hours of sleep to be fully functional as their brains are still developing.
We like to err on the side of caution. Personally, recommend that your teen aim closer to 10 hours of sleep per night while in school. Unfortunately, most teens report getting 6-7 hours of sleep per night. This means that they could benefit from a few extra hours. Here’s how you can help.
Helping Your Teen Get Enough Sleep
Teen Getting Enough Sleep
1. Make Bedtime Routine
Nightly rituals are a proven way to get teenagers to sleep more effectively. If they get in the habit of performing a bedtime routine about an hour before they go to sleep, it will cue their brains to start the shutdown process. This process includes releasing the chemical melatonin that makes one feel sleepy. The earlier in the night they can begin their routine, the more effective it will be at helping them unwind.
Some examples of nightly rituals are taking a warm shower, changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, saying good night, having herbal tea, or listening to calm music. It doesn’t matter so much what your teen chooses for their bedtime ritual. What’s more, important is that they do it at the same time every night. It should be the last thing they do before going to bed.
Teen Getting Enough Sleep
2. Remove Screens
Research has well established that using screens before bed can prevent someone from getting to sleep on time. The light emitted from televisions, laptops, and phones stimulate our brain and interfere with the release of melatonin. The blu hues trick our mind into thinking it’s still daylight.
We recommend that you remove all screens from your teen at least an hour before bed. This way, the light doesn’t keep them awake for an extra hour than desired. You could try installing parental controls that lock your teens out of their electronics past a particular hour. Likewise, you can use apps that remove blue light from the phone if your teen must use their devices before bed.
3. Make Bedtime Non-Negotiable
To help your teen sleep better, try teaching them to budget sleep time like they would schedule school time, homework time, or workout time. It isn’t healthy if your teen cuts into their scheduled 8-10 hours of rest because of their homework or socializing to attend to instead.
We suggest that you make bedtime a priority for your teen that other activities cannot interfere with. If they haven’t finished their homework in time for bed, they should get sleep instead. You can use this opportunity to show your teen how important it is to manage their scheduled homework time by not waiting until the last minute before bed.
Teen Getting Enough Sleep
4. Stick to a Schedule
This strategy works exceptionally well because the body naturally wants to wake and rest at the same time every day. To help your teenager get restful sleep on time and wake up without feeling tired, you can try to set their bedtime at the same time every night, regardless of weekends or holidays.
It’s okay if they want to stretch the limits and stay up late for fun every once in a while, but if they get in the habit of having unusual bedtimes, your teen’s body will not learn when to start releasing melatonin for adequate rest.
It’s also essential to wake up your teen at the same time, even if it’s the weekend. Sure, they should get some extra rest if they need, but if they fall into a pattern of sleeping in an additional 3 or 4 hours on the weekend, it’ll be that much harder for them to get to sleep on time later that night.
5. Cut Down on Naps and Caffeine
Two common curveballs for regular sleep are napping and drinking caffeine. To help your teen get the sleep they need, you could try to encourage them to cut back on daytime sleep. That way, they are appropriately tired when their bedtime comes around. If they nap frequently, they could have trouble staying asleep. This can lead to waking in the night, only to be exhausted the next day and prompt another nap session.
The same is true of caffeine. Drinking caffeine close to bedtime harms sleep that will make your teen tired the next day. This encourages them to use more caffeine to stay awake. Our advice isn’t to remove naps and to drink caffeine altogether, just to cut back and not engage in these activities near bedtime or regularly.
A sleepy teen probably won’t perform as well in school, retain information as quickly, or drive a car as safely as a well-rested one. This is why it is so vital that you try to help your teen get the necessary 8-10 hours of sleep per night. These guidelines are proven to work and will surely help your teen stay on track as long as they stick with them.