Sleep and your brain

Sleep is often a tricky subject for young people but it is incredibly important - it's all to do with your brain... 

 Recognise something like this? 

teen sleep


Sleep and the brain 

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 ans 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! 

Sleep cartoon

And not getting enough sleep can affect your health, your mood / emotions. it can affect your energy levels, affect your coordination; ability to focus; your memory and learn stuff. (just at the time schools start wanting to learn / remember heaps of things and do exams!) 

asleepat school


Top Tips for a Good Night's Sleep 

Aim for 8-10 hours of sleep a night.

 Try and stick to a routine. Go to bed when you feel tired. Get up at the same time every day, whether you still feel tired or not. The more you do this, the easier it will be to get to sleep.

Don't eat a meal too late and avoid caffeine  Your body needs time to digest food properly. Caffeine is a stimulant and can stay in your body for hours after you've had chocolate, a fizzy drink, tea or coffee

Relax before going to bed
Some people find reading helpful. But stick to paper books - the light from computer screens and some e-readers can make it harder to fall asleep. It's best if you have no screen time for at least 30 minutes before you plan to sleep.

Make sure you're comfortable
Not too hot or cold, and that the room you're in isn't too noisy or bright.

Do some exercise
Don't overdo it, but try some regular swimming or walking. The best time to exercise is in the daytime – particularly late afternoon or early evening. Later than this can disturb your sleep. Exercise burns off excess energy and releases endorphins – natural chemicals that help you de-stress, feel less anxious and more relaxed.

Write it down
If something is troubling you and there’s nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down before going to bed. Once it’s written down, you can tell yourself you’ll deal with it tomorrow.

Only use your bed for sleep
If you can't get to sleep after about 20 minutes, get up and do something that relaxes you. When you feel ready, go back to bed.

Turn off your phone / tablet
As well as the light from screens making it harder to sleep notifications or friends ringing or texting you will disturb your sleep too,  

Learn some simple breathing exercises to help you relax once you are in bed