How to help your teenager get better sleep?
How is it that teens sleep so long yet it’s so hard to get them to go to bed? The truth is that teenagers face some unique challenges that make getting the eight to ten hours they need difficult. However, the sleep cycle is highly influenced by habits and behaviors, which can give your teen the power to get more sleep with simple behavioral changes.
Teen sleep challenges
Before we jump into what you and your teen can do to improve sleep, let’s take a quick look at the sleep issues teens face. First, is sleep phase delay, a phenomenon in which the adolescent sleep cycle shifts, causing them to feel sleepy one or two hours later than normal. They may not feel tired until 11 0’clock or later even if they have an early alarm set.
Second are the changing demands on the time of modern teens. Education requirements, social demands, and extracurricular activities are more demanding than ever and teens may be cutting sleep to keep up.
And last, teens are able to resist the effects of sleep deprivation longer than adults. However, once they reach their threshold, they fall asleep faster and harder, making them particularly dangerous when driving drowsy.
You can influence your teen’s sleep-related behavior by educating him about the importance and benefits of sleep. But you’ll probably be most effective by modeling sleep-supportive behavior yourself. Here are our tips to get the ball rolling.
Create a sleep-inducing bedroom
The bedroom environment has a powerful impact on the success of the sleep cycle. At night, a room that’s cool, dark, and quiet allows the body to relax and sleep hormones to flow freely. A comfortable mattress that fully supports your teen’s weight and preferred sleep style—side, front, back—can reduce night wakings too.
Help establish a regular sleep schedule
The human body was designed to follow and keep a regular schedule. A consistent sleep/wake pattern helps the body know when to release sleep hormones. When your teen falls asleep and wakes up at the same time every day, with time, his body learns to respond more readily to sleep hormones.
Develop a nightly routine
We’ll call it a nightly routine so your teen doesn’t balk, but it’s really a bedtime routine. Routines help the brain regulate the release of hormones, including sleep hormones. It also provides a chance for your teen to get rid of stress and anxiety that may have built up during the day. A warm bath, reading a book, or listening to quiet calming music can all be part of his routine. However, routines are most effective when they’re started at the same time and performed in the same order each day.
Eat for sleep success
Meals eaten at consistent times and spaced at regular intervals help establish a normal sleep/wake cycle. Your teen may also benefit from a healthy, high carb snack before bed as carbs have been shown to help you fall asleep faster.
It really comes down to consistency. If you can help your teen build a schedule that includes adequate sleep, you’ll be setting him up for better academic, social, and personal success.