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Sleep Tips for Teens and Tweens – Suggestions to Help Your Child Get a Good Night’s Rest

Teenage Boy Sleeping
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Does your teenager get enough sleep to feel great and pay attention in school? If you’re child is a typical teen, chances are they don’t. Check out our sleep tips for teens and tweens.

Sleep research suggests that a teenager needs between eight and 10 hours of sleep every night, yet most adolescents only get about 6.5–7.5 hours’ sleep per night, and some get less.

Inadequate sleep can have dramatic effects on a teenager’s life, impacting their cognitive functioning, academic achievement, and increasing their risk of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.

In adolescence, sleep drive, or feeling the need to sleep, shifts later and later, meaning that they feel more wakeful and less able to fall asleep until later hours.

So how do you prevent your teens from being sleep deprived? Try not to argue with your teenager about bedtime. Instead, discuss the issue with them. Together, brainstorm ways to increase their nightly quota of sleep.

Sleep tips for teens and tweens

Here are 7 effective tips to getting your sleep deprived teen to sleep better:

Limit screens in the bedroom

Decide together on appropriate time limits for any stimulating activity such as homework or screen time. Encourage your teenager to have at least 30 minutes of screen-free time before going to sleep.

Having screens in the bedroom also means your teen is more likely to stay up late interacting with friends on social media. If possible, don’t have a mobile, tablet, TV or computer in the bedroom at night, as the light from the screen interferes with sleep. 

Get your teen to “chill out” before bedtime

Teen sleeping alarm clock set

If your teen is frequently stressed out, recommend that they do yoga or meditation to help them ease their racing thoughts. Going to bed worried decreases the quality of their sleep, so recommend relaxation techniques for your teen. If they have a problem relaxing, then the issue should be checked out by a doctor.

Create a sleep-friendly bedroom

Ensure your teenager has a good sleeping environment – ideally a room that is dark, cool, quiet and comfortable. It might be worth investing in thicker curtains or a blackout blind to help block out early summer mornings and light evenings. When your teen gets up on school days, encourage them to open their shades, and turn on the light. The early light of day helps to “reset” their brain to push their bedtime to an earlier hour.

Have a consistent bedtime routine

Just like babies and young children, teenagers benefit from having a consistent bedtime routine. Encourage your child to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Try to limit sleep-ins during weekends to only about one extra hour. For example, if bedtime is normally 9:00 pm (a good bedtime for a teen who wakes up at 6:00 am), then have weekend bedtime be 10:00 pm and let your teen sleep until about 7:00 am.

Relaxed teenage girl waking up

Take a hot bath or shower before bed to boost deep sleep

Studies show a hot shower or bath before bed causes drowsiness because we feel sleepy as our body temperature drops. For the same reason, keep your teen’s room cool but not cold (about 20°c) overnight.

Eat a light-carb snack before bed

Encourage your child to have a snack before bedtime, such as cereal, crackers, fruit, or toast with jam. Light-carb snacks like these can make a teen feel sleepy while a hungry belly can prevent falling off to sleep.

Limit caffeine intake

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes teens forget that caffeine can be hidden in some of their favourite drinks and snacks. Make sure to get your teen into the habit of monitoring caffeine intake throughout the day. If they’re craving something hot to drink, then recommend a warm cup of herbal tea. One or two strong cups of herbal tea can help them mellow out.

*Sleep Tips For Tween and Teens is a guest post from Angela Zaugg, Our Lady’s College Annerley, and appeared in our print issue 39, April/May 2020
Visit Our Lady’s College website here.

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