According to recent studies, forty-three percent of parents say their teens struggle to fall asleep — or wake up and can’t get back to sleep.
Help your teen sleep better with the following tips:
Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Keeping a sleep schedule within an hour of what’s usual helps keep the circadian rhythm in check. Sleeping in hours later than normal on the weekends and during school breaks makes it even more difficult to switch back — and can lead to more tiredness and grogginess. “Catch-up” sleep is also unlikely to make up for the full amount of sleep debt accrued over a week, and we don’t believe it’s as restorative to the body.
Discourage afternoon naps
Even though they may provide more sleep short term, naps make it harder to fall asleep at night. They also break up sleep, which means lower quality of sleep and fewer benefits. If this is a habit, do everything you can to quit naps for a week to make it easier to not nap going forward.
Ban electronics from the bedroom
Not being able to stay off electronics — including social media and cell phones — was the top reason polled parents cited for their teens’ sleep troubles. Some research indicates that the light exposure from screens also disrupts traditional cues sent to the brain to wind down. That’s why I recommend physically removing the device.
Charge phones elsewhere
Make it a family rule to charge all devices in a parent’s bedroom or another isolated space to reduce temptation at bedtime. Many teens I’ve seen in my own practice actually describe a sense of relief when their parents limit phone use because it takes away some of that pressure to keep up with social news and what their peers are up to.
Stick to sleep-friendly bedtime routines
In addition to banning electronics, limit other distractions in the bedroom. All stimulation should be minimized. Keep lights low and active pets out of the bedroom. We discourage using music or sound machines to help with sleep because they may actually keep the brain stimulated.
Realize sleep isn’t instant
We don’t expect people to fall asleep right away. It can take half an hour for someone to truly fall asleep. Have your teen follow a routine that helps them de-stress and wind down to get their body into sleep mode and send the right signals to the brain that it’s time to snooze (e.g., bath, reading, bed).
Consult a health provider
Sometimes an underlying medical issue, such as depression or sleep apnea, may be causing sleep trouble. If a teen continues to have problems falling asleep or is waking up multiple times at night despite healthy sleep hygiene habits, speak to a sleep specialist.
Call us if you have additional information. We can help.