A big thank you to sleep practitioner Kerry, aka The Sleep Fixer, for her sound advice on teenagers and sleep.
So, teenagers have a reputation of being ‘night owls’. Now, this can be given to them or they can take on this status themselves. But are they?
Having worked directly with teenagers a common theme is they will pull all-nighters and play games talking to their friends until the early hours of the morning. This often leads to ‘catching up’ with sleep at the weekends.
What is actually happening?
So, teens can experience a natural shift in their circadian rhythm during puberty, making falling to sleep more difficult simply because their bodies are telling them to fall asleep later.
Then if you take into consideration early starts for school, possibly part time jobs and extracurricular activities, this cycle can lead to lack of sleep and sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation in its own right can cause all sorts of difficulties including difficult behaviour, mood swings, poor diet, issues with memory and concentration.
So how much sleep should teens in particular be getting?
Around 9 hours of sleep is recommended. Teenagers are going through a second development stage. The extra sleep helps to support growth spurts and brain development.
Sleep can also help to protect your teen from more serious consequences such as depression.
What can we do to help our teens?
- Modelling good sleep is always a great place to start – paying particular attention to good sleep hygiene, keeping regular sleep and wake times and including some exercise into your day.
- Good sleep hygiene should include an activity that promotes calmness. Pay close attention to the hour before sleep; avoid stimulation in that time.
- Getting out into daylight as close to the wake-up time as possible will help the body to recognise it is morning and will suppress the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Speak to your teen about how they feel, particularly on those days when they have slept well – help them to see how positive sleep is.
- Look at ways to schedule the evening for/with your teens, lots of teens like to ‘put things off’ as we all can do. Use the early part of the evening for activities, study and exercise, leaving time later in the evening for a proper ‘wind down’.
- Removing tech from the bedroom would be ideal but if this causes huge barriers maybe just removing devices that cause stimulation and swapping these out for some relaxing music, audible books and even changing devices to grey scale (old school black and white) can help!
- Eating for sleep is something that we often don’t do in today’s world. A supper around an hour before bed can help; particularly foods that are high in tryptophan like oats, wheat and milk.
So, there we have it, a quick-fire guide to teenage sleep. If you are struggling with your teen and this is having an impact on everyday life, please do not hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much, Kerry. If you’d like to find out more, you can find The Sleep Fixer on Instagram and Facebook (this link is for her page helping adults to get a good night’s sleep), as well as at www.thesleepfixer.com.
Louise & Anna x