9 Ways to Encourage Your Teen to get a Good Night's Sleep

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The National Sleep Foundation recommends teens get between 8 ½ and 9 1/2 hours of sleep per night. However, most teens aren’t getting enough sleep and sleep deprivation can have serious consequences on their physical and mental health.

Take steps to encourage good sleep hygiene. Developing healthy sleep habits can greatly improve your teen’s mood and school performance. Here are some strategies that can increase the likelihood that your teen will get longer and better quality sleep:

1. Make Sure Your Teen Gets Plenty of Exercise

A teen who engages in regular exercise is likely to sleep better. Just make sure your teen isn’t exercising too close to bedtime or it could interfere with falling asleep.

2. Don’t Allow Your Teen to Take Long Naps

Sometimes overtired teens get caught up in a perpetuating cycle where they take long naps during the day and then struggle to fall asleep at night. A short 20 minute can help your teen feel more alert during the day. But, longer naps can interfere with normal sleep cycles.

3. Keep the Sleep Schedule Similar on Weekends

Many teens are chronically sleep deprived and they try to make up for that sleep deprivation by sleeping a lot on the weekends or during school vacations. But, a teen who sleeps until noon on Saturday is likely to stay up until the wee hours of the morning on Saturday night. This can make it difficult to shift back to a school schedule.

Encourage your teen to keep a similar sleep schedule on days off.

4. Discourage Your Teen from Doing Homework in Bed

A teen who does homework or other taxing activities in bed may associate the bed with stress. Encourage your teen to do homework in a separate area away from the bed if at all possible and reserve the bed for sleeping and light reading to help your teen sleep better.

5. Turn Off Electronics an Hour Before Bed

The bright light from computers, smartphones, video games and TV can interfere with your teen’s biological clock if it’s used close to bedtime. During evening hours, as our brains recognize it’s dark outside, melatonin is produced in the brain. Staring at a bright screen can interfere with that process. Researchers at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found 2 or more hours of screen time can suppress Melatonin by as much as 22%. Create a rule that says no electronics within an hour of bedtime.

Read More: 10 Strategies to Limit Your Teen's Screen Time

6. Help Your Teen Develop a Bedtime Routine

Younger children often have a clear bedtime routine that involves a relaxing bath, getting into their pajamas, and settling in for a story. But most teens don’t have any type of schedule or routine. Creating a more grown up bedtime routine can help your teen’s body recognize that it’s bedtime and it can help reduce the amount of time needed to fall asleep. Encourage your teen to have a regular bedtime and establish pre-bedtime rituals, like reading quietly for 20 minutes.

7. Set Limits on Caffeine

Teens are often tempted to use caffeine to help them stay alert during the day.

But, consuming too much caffeine can interfere with their ability to fall asleep. Set limits on how much caffeine your teen consumes and don’t allow any caffeine to be consumed during the late afternoon or evening hours.

8. Encourage Outdoor Activities

Natural light can help regulate a teen’s biological clock. Encourage your teen to go for a walk or sit outdoors for a few minutes each day. If it’s not possible to go outside, sitting near a window with plenty of natural sunlight can be helpful.

9. Don’t Allow Electronics in Your Teen’s Bedroom Overnight

Most teens are likely to be woken up by a Tweet, text message or phone call in the middle of the night.

Don’t allow your teen’s smartphone or laptop to stay in the bedroom overnight. Most teens can’t resist replying to a message and using social media during the overnight hours which can greatly interfere with their sleep.

Read More: The Pros and Cons of Later Start Times for Schools

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