Sleep comes easily for some, but many teenagers find it hard to disengage from activities and wind down at night. There are some ways to make sleep come more easily.
Sleep and a Typical Teen
Bleary-eyed, Shawn dragged into the kitchen and opened the fridge. “Where’s the juice?”
“Open your eyes, Bro.” Ten-year-old Kaitlyn, who had been awake for an hour, picked up the carton from the table and jiggled it at her older brother.
“Cut it out, K. Just because you’re awake doesn’t mean we all are. What? No baby friends to text at night?”
“If you’d disconnect when you go to bed, you’d be awake, too.”
Mom came into the kitchen to get a coffee refill. “Kids. Stop bickering. It’s bad enough out in the world. You don’t need this at home.”
Shawn stretched. “Really, Mom. If you’d just make Kaitlyn shut it, we’d all be better off.”
Sixteen-year-old Shawn has trouble going to sleep at night even if he turns off his phone. It’s a fact that teens’ sleep cycles change when their hormones change, but screen time and even sleep deprivation make it tough to wind down at night.
Sleep: 7 Tips from the National Sleep Foundation
The NSF offers the following suggestions that teens can follow to get good sleep:
- Acknowledge the seriousness of sleep deprivation. It causes accidents and illness.
- Avoid naps. If a nap is necessary, limit it to a short “power” nap.
- Wind down in preparation for sleep. Turn off screens, lower room temperature, and avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Relax with a book for a few minutes before lights out.
- Stop eating a couple of hours before bedtime. This may be hard since teens eat all the time.
- Make tomorrow’s “to-do” list so you won’t stay awake trying to remember what you need to do the following day. When you get it on paper, you can dismiss it from your mind.
- Establish a routine. Having a set bedtime and wake time every day (weekends included) makes sleep come more easily. Being in sync with your natural rhythms is a powerful energy booster.
- Counting does help—sheep or blessings. The point is that you are keeping your mind from worrisome thoughts. I’d rather drift off thinking about my blessings than smelly sheep.
Make Changes One Week at a Time
If your teens think these guidelines are impossible, suggest they try them for one week. Then ask for an assessment of the difference. They might be surprised.