Sleep Tips for Teens

What can teens do to optimize sleep?

It can be hard to determine the cause of a teen’s sleep problems. If a teen seems to be getting enough rest at night but is still feeling tired during the day, it’s a good idea to visit the sleep doctor.

If a sleep problem is suspected, the doctor will evaluate your overall health and sleep habits. In addition, he or she may order a sleep test. Most teens will sleep more restfully if they develop better sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene consists of healthy sleep habits that can be addressed through the following tips:

  1. Have a regular, relaxing routine just before bedtime. Teens, and even adults, often have busy and hectic schedules. They need a chance to unwind at night. Allow plenty of time (for example, 40 minutes) to wind down before bed. Good winding-down activities are warm baths, warm drinks, journaling, reading a book or magazine, and listening to quiet music.
  2. Avoid activities that will excite your senses late in the evening. Find another time for computer games, action movies, intense reading or heavy studying. Turn off loud music, mobile phones, computer screens, and TV at least one hour before bedtime. Late-night phone calls, text messages, and social media use can mean broken sleep, so it is best to conduct these activities during the day.
  3. Do not have anything with caffeine (including soda and chocolate) after 4:00 pm.
  4. Avoid smoking, as nicotine will disturb your sleep.
  5. Maintain a regular exercise routine and a healthy diet as it will help you sleep better at night.
  6. Make sleep a priority. Review Teen Time in this toolkit and keep a sleep diary. Decide what you need to change to get enough sleep to stay healthy, happy, and smart.
  7. Make your room a sleep heaven. Keep it cool, quiet and dark. If you need to, get eyeshades or blackout curtains. Let in bright light in the morning as your body recognizes sunlight as a signal to wake up.
  8. If you must take a nap during the day, keep it under an hour. Research has shown the best naps do not exceed more than 30 minutes. Make sure the nap is in the early afternoon. Longer and later naps can make it harder to get to sleep at night.
  9. Keep a consistent schedule throughout the week and weekend. Set a bedtime and wake time that allows you to get the nightly sleep you need. On the weekends, it is okay to get an extra hour of sleep as it will not throw off your biological clocks, and will not leave you wide-awake at midnight on Saturday evening. However, keep the weekend sleep-ins to no more than 60 minutes of additional rest.
  10. If you find yourself ‘clock watching’, turn the clock around or move it to where you can’t see it.
  11. If you still have trouble going to sleep, get up and do something relaxing like reading. When you feel tired, then go back to bed. .
  12. Have a healthy breakfast. Tired adolescents are less likely to eat, but even a light breakfast helps to kick-start the body clock. This helps the body feel ready for sleep at the right time at night.

How many hours of sleep does a teenager need?