Lying in bed staring at the ceiling and feeling exhausted is never fun. Good sleep is important for our mental and physical health. As a teenager, you may be experiencing a lack of sleep or feel that you don’t need it as you’re ‘too busy’. Getting a good night’s sleep helps our bodies to repair and grow and as you enter your teen years, this is more integral than ever. Additionally, in some people, mental health issues can start in teen years and be made worse by lack of sleep. So make sure you get your rest.
According to the NHS,
‘A minimum of 8 to 9 hours good sleep on school nights is recommended for teens.’
There are some sleep researchers that recommend up to 9 and a half hours, but this depends on the person. Some people need more sleep to function better.
Dreams.co.uk, a bed company in the UK, has shared some interesting facts about sleep. Did you know that humans spend a third of their life sleeping? Among young people, ‘dysania’ (or struggling to get out of bed in the morning) is very common with many teens finding it hard to get to school or wake up groggy.
So how can you get better sleep? Here are some tips to help:
1) Practise sleep hygiene.
The National Sleep Foundation defines sleep hygiene as ‘a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.’ This can include limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes, this level of nap can improve alertness. It is also important to increase exposure to natural light, as well as darkness to maintain a positive sleep-wake cycle.
2) Avoid caffeine close to bedtime
Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep your brain and body alert, often found in coffee, tea, chocolate or coca cola. Make sure you limit them close to bedtime as they can stop you falling asleep and effect sleep quality.
3) Exercise for better sleep
Regular exercise, out in daylight is said to improve sleep patterns. If you are struggling to sleep regularly, it may be good to take up a sport or walk more, instead of getting the bus.
4) Be careful with what you eat before bed
Fried, fatty, spicy and heavy foods can cause painful heartburn which can keep you awake. Make sure you limit these before bedtime, if they are a problem for you.
5) Make your bedroom sleep friendly and at the correct temperature
The Sleep Foundation suggests that a bedroom should be between 60 and 67 degrees for optimal sleep. They also suggest limiting screens with bright light before bed and adjusting the room lighting to be low.
The aim is to make your bedroom as relaxing as possible so invest in good, soft pillows and duvets and a comfortable mattress. If you are struggling to get good sleep, you can buy blackout curtains and face masks, or ear plugs and ‘white noise’ machines which have a relaxing effect. In the middle of summer if the room is too hot, invest in a fan or air conditioning unit if possible.
6) Establish a bedtime routine
A regular bedtime routine can help the body to learn that now is time to rest and switch off. There are many routines that can help, experiment to see what works for you.This could be listening to calming music, dimming the lights, having a warm bath or shower, reading quietly and limiting screen time for the hour before you go to sleep.
Some people find switching off their phone or putting it in a drawer to be helpful. Relaxation practices like guided meditation can also help.Always go to bed and try and wake at the same time each day so you can develop a good routine to aid sleep.
7) If you’re a parent listen to your teen
Teens often have problems and worries which can stop them from falling asleep. As a parent or guardian, they may need a listening air and guidance. Remember to stay calm and listen to them if they want to talk to you about it. Don’t push them to talk before they are ready.
Teens may be stressed over school exams and homework worries, relationships and friendships, bullying, social activities and any other fears or worries going on in their lives. If they have fallen in with a bad group of friends, this can be a worry too. Always be there non judgementally as much as you can be.
If you are worried about your teen’s mental health and lack of sleep or notice they are engaging in risky behaviour, it’s important to speak to their GP with them and you can also get in touch with their teachers, mentors and charities to help. The Samaritans free helpline in the UK is 116 123
Lastly, remember that getting into a good sleep pattern can really help to benefit you as a teenager, making life feel that much better.
At Teen Calm, we promote winding down before bed, getting a good night’s rest and finding your inner calm. See more at www.teencalm.com