It is common for teenagers to find it difficult to get to sleep at night because for some, as a result of puberty, their intrinsic day is extended beyond 24 hours, and is consequently they are not ready for sleep until late in the night. Because there is little flexibility with wakeup time, this often results in the teenager suffering sleep deprivation, leaving them tired and unmotivated during the day.
With so many commitments such as work, school, chores, social life and sports it can be difficult to make time for sleep. This can have a negative effect on academic performance and mental health. Sleep is especially important for teens as good sleep has a positive impact on physical, mental and emotional development.
Sleep deprivation can also lead to slow reaction times particularly when driving, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep on school nights.
- It is important to try and limit your exposure to blue-light emitting devices such as smartphones and laptops. Blue light causes us to be more alert so it is best to stop using these 1 hour prior to bed.
- Try to not work too late into the evening whether it is homework or an evening job.
- Teens usually go to sleep 1-2 hours later on weekends and this can play havoc with their sleep pattern. To minimise the effect, it is best not to vary wake-up time by more than one hour, even on weekends, but rather have a power nap in the afternoon (but remember no more than 20 minutes) and go to bed earlier that night.
- If your body clock has got out of whack and you are finding it difficult to initiate sleep much before midnight then the best way to readjust your body clock is to start to wake up 15 minutes earlier for 3 days, then another 15 minutes for another 3 days and so on. Over time you will find it easier to get to sleep earlier in the night.
- Try and be more active earlier in the day and definitely before 6pm. Increasing exposure to sunlight and exercising daily will improve your ability to sleep at night.
- Reduce caffeine intake. This includes coffee and energy drinks.
- Recreational drugs such as cannabis, alcohol and tobacco can cause very poor-quality sleep, it is best to avoid these.
- A night-time routine can help you ease into sleep. The routine should include switching off all technology at least one hour before bedtime, having a warm to hot shower or bath and a relaxation/breathing exercise. A sleep mist spray that you can use on your body or your bedlinen and a soothing cup of Sleepy Time Tea may also help you nod off to sleep more easily.