We all know that the teenage years are important for a variety of reasons – physically, academically, socially and emotionally.
We also know that sleep patterns during the teenage years can take on a life of their own. As the teenage brain and body develops, sleep is essential to give the brain time to do its behind the scenes work.
Research is indicating that many teenagers are not getting the sleep they need. Most teenagers need between 8-10 hours of sleep a night.
Why do teenagers need sleep?
- Thinking and academic achievement – sleep allows the brain to process, lack of sleep makes waking hours less productive
- Emotional heath – mood and reactions can be impacted by sleep
- Physical health – development, immune system, hormones and recovery are all impacted by sleep quality
- Decision making and risky behaviour – teenagers who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to engage in risky behaviours
- Accidents and injuries – lack of sleep can make teenagers more accident prone.
How can we promote good sleeping patterns for teenagers?
- Establish routines
- Keep wake up times on weekdays and weekends within two hours of each other
- Get out of bed when they wake up
- Do relaxing, non-screen activities in the hour before bed (read, listen to music, have a bath). Keep the screens in a different room
- Keep daytime naps to 20 minutes in the early afternoon
- Good health and nutrition
- Eat a satisfying meal at a reasonable time
- Get as much natural light as possible during the day
- Eat a healthy breakfast and don’t drink caffeinated drinks from the afternoon onwards
- Do some physical activity during the day, but not too close to bedtime.
- Dealing with anxiety
- If your child is anxious, talk about things or encourage them to write about their anxieties well before bedtime
- Research mindfulness bedtime activities.
- Model good behaviours
- Encourage everyone in the family to follow these guidelines.
For all of us, getting enough sleep is one of the most important things we can do to support our own wellbeing. Supporting our teens in getting into good sleeping habits now will benefit their teenage development but will also put them in good stead for living a well life.