Getting enough sleep is important for keeping our bodies and minds healthy. This is really important for teenagers. Sleep is a really important part of all the changes taking place in the body and the especailly the amazing teenage brain…
Most of us don’t get enough sleep…
The fab childline website has loads of advice and info about sleep and more.
ONE - Light and Dark
For the first two thirds of the day get plenty of bright light. Then reduce the lighting and light from screens.
Limit screen time in the run up to bedtime. Ideally, avoid using screens in the hour before bed as this can interfere with the body’s natural production of the hormone melatonin, which is important for sleep! Also the activities you do on these devices that keeps you awake and alert at the wrong end of the day.
Get outdoors, fresh air and walking or exercise will help. Vitamin D from sunlight is important for sleep.
If you are indoors, spend some time looking out of the window, the sun is brighter than any lamp in your house, even on a grey day!
When it is dark, you produce a hormone called melatonin and this helps you to fall asleep. Dim the lights in the hour before bed to help produce melatonin.
TWO - Sensory
If we are worrying feeling stressed our senses are on high alert and this can affect our sleep. Plan and do something before you go to bed which will help you feel calmer:
- Have a bath
- Wear a cuddly jumper
- Do some stretching exercise
- Read a book (a proper book with pages, not on a screen!)
- Do a jigsaw!
You could also switch off notifications on your devices to give yourself ‘down time’ during the day.
THREE - Routine
Keep your internal body clock on track by waking up at the same time every day - including the weekends! This will help to support your circadian rhythm, meaning waking up is easier.
A bedtime routine is not just for kids! Having a consistent wind down sleep schedule relaxes you before bed and helps with feelings of sleepiness. Stick to a bedtime routine and a structure to your day.
If your routine has changed during lockdown and you have been having a later wake up time check out the Getting back to a routine tips (link anchor)
Eat and drink at regular times. Avoid caffeine after 4pm (even better after 12pm) and be aware that it can be found in chocolate and energy drinks.
Make to do lists to remove worries at bedtime. Avoid using social media before bedtime. Prioritise relaxation and sleep.
Four - Keeping Calm
If you are feeling anxious, plan some time for breathing exercises or yoga.
Check out this terrific yoga sleep sequence kindly shared by our fab colleague and yoga teacher, Suzanne (PW = feelingsleepy) Thanks Suzanne!
There are many apps or websites such as Calm or Headspace with specific exercises to follow. Try the app 'Moshi Twilight' as it has great bedtime stories.
Aim to have an hour of relaxation before bed, whilst ensuring you stick with the same bedtime each night. Make sure you go to sleep when you’re feeling tired.
The only way to fix not being sleepy is to stay awake. If you can’t sleep, even with your relaxation app, get up and do something absorbing but with no purpose, boring even.
If you think you may wake in the night, place a book on your favourite chair ready to read if you wake.
Five - Everyone’s Different
Everyone is different and every night’s sleep is different. For adults usually 7 to 10 hours sleep is regarded as acceptable. For school aged children anything between 7 and 12 hours sleep is fine, for teens between 7 and 11 hours. If you don’t feel sleepy during the day then you're probably getting the right amount of sleep.
Don’t compare your sleep needs to those of your friends. One size doesn’t fit all! Having a plan that works for you is more important than having one plan fits all approach.
Sleep and your brain
Sleep is often a tricky subject for young people but it is incredibly important and it is all to do with what's happening in your brain...
What's your sleep like?
If there is one thing guaranteed to cause arguments at home it's teenagers staying up late and sleeping in in the mornings...
But it not really your fault... it's your brain!
The teenage brain is going through some huge changes and sleep is a seriously important part of the process - so you need to get plenty of sleep
Teenagers need about 8 - 10 hours a night but just when it would be a good idea to have settled sleep patterns they are getting totally mucked about by puberty and hormones and stuff!! (apologies to proper scientists but 'stuff' is a really useful word...)
When you sleep you might think everything is resting. That's true for your body but your brain continues to be active. During puberty and the teenage years your brain is changing big time... it's having a clear out of stuff (like some memories you don't need), making different connections and storing new stuff... this takes up an incredible amount of energy and it has a lot more to do so, you need more sleep.
Obvious answer - go to bed earlier! But...
...all the hormones knocking about make your body clock go a bit weird and so you often don't feel sleepy or ready for sleep at a sensible time, so you end up going to bed late and sleeping late in the mornings (if you're allowed but you have to get up to go school and so you don't get enough sleep!
And, not getting enough sleep can affect
- your health
- your mood / emotions (more about brain chemicals)
- your energy levels
- your coordination;
- your ability to focus;
- your memory and ability to learn (just at the time when schools start wanting to you learn / remember heaps of things and do exams!)
The Teen Sleep Hub Videos
Here are some of our favourite Teen Sleep Hub videos. Check out their website for more.