According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 should sleep 8 to 10 hours per every 24 hour period for best health. Unfortunately, most teens are chronically sleep-deprived, which leads to all kinds of problems, including: depression, high blood pressure, behavioral and emotional issues, and poor school performance.
A recent study out of Hong Kong looked at the sleep habits of almost 5000 teens between the ages of 12 and 18. In this experiment, about 23% of the teens had a tendency to go to bed very late, because their circadian rhythm was of the “eveningness” type. These night owls were 88% more likely to have difficulty with their emotional and behavioral health than teens who naturally went to bed earlier.
Some researchers believe that starting school later would help to eliminate many of these issues. In fact, in a recent study of over 9000 students from eight high schools across three different states, delayed school starting times correlated with improved grades, higher standardized test scores, and a 65-70% reduction in teen car-accidents.
Imagine if teen angst was really just teen sleep-deprivation?
While we aren’t willing to go that far, we do believe that getting a better night’s sleep would help reduce many of the problems that teens face.
So, here are some tips to help teens, or really anyone, fall asleep faster.
Build A Routine
Bedtime routines aren’t just for little kids! Encourage your teen to go to sleep at the same time every night, even on weekends. While this may seem unrealistic, it’s a great way to get your child’s body used to sleeping well. It may also be helpful for your teen to do something relaxing, like taking a warm bath, or doing a 15 minute relaxation yoga practice before bed.
Watch Your Caffeine
As fun as those afternoon trips to Starbucks can be, caffeine can stay in your teen’s system for many hours after they enjoy that Frappucino. Try to get him or her to agree to no caffeine after noon, and remember that tea and soda pack caffeine punches as well.
Experts suggest turning off all electronic devices 30 minutes before bed. This helps to reduce the amount of blue light, (a light emitted by cell phones and other devices that suppresses melatonin, and makes sleep difficult), that your teen is exposed to. Turning off devices will also help to reduce the likelihood that your teen will see something upsetting, aka sleep-ruining, on their newsfeed.
Hit The Gym
Regular exercise, preferably before 2pm, is a great way to ensure that your teen will get a restful night’s sleep. Vigorous exercise at night can have the opposite effect, because the endorphins that working out produces can interfere with sleep.
Finally, a great practice to encourage your teen to try before bed is to give thanks for everything that he or she is grateful for. Not only will this fill their mind with pleasant thoughts, but it will also initiate a relaxation response that is wonderfully conducive to falling asleep.
If you’d like to learn more about healthy ways to promote a good night’s sleep for you or your child, contact us. We’d love to help!