Adolescent Health Clinic: Sleep Tips
Aim for 9.5 hours of sleep per night
Yes, really! Research shows that most teens need more than 9 hours per night. If you are falling short, you might notice it affecting your:
- Mood: not getting enough sleep can cause you to feel irritable and make you feel BLAH.
- Behavior: teens who are not getting enough sleep are more prone to risk-taking behaviors such as drinking alcohol and driving recklessly.
- Thinking: sleep deprivation can result in attention problems, memory problems, lead to bad decision-making, slow down reaction time and stunt creativity.
- Academic performance: teens who are sleep deprived are more likely to do poorly in school, fall asleep during class, have multiple school absences or be consistently tardy.
- Athletic performance: sleep deprived teens are more likely to perform poorly in after-school sports due to slower reaction times.
- Driving: teens are most prone to fall asleep while behind the wheel. This can be highly dangerous, especially combined with other negative effects such as slower reaction times and being easily distracted.
What are some factors that prevent teens from getting enough sleep?
- Shifting of the biological clock: after puberty, a teen’s internal clock shifts about 2 hours. For example, if a teen used to fall asleep by 9pm before, they’re typically not tired until after 11pm now. This also means that they naturally will want to sleep 2 hours later the following morning.
- Early school start times: most school districts start classes as early as 7-8am, which means teens have to get up as early to get ready and make it to school in a timely manner.
- Having a busy life outside of school: most teens partake in afterschool activities such as clubs, sports, part-time jobs, or household chores, on top of homework that’s assigned daily and must be completed each evening.
- Screen usage: staying up late on your phone affects your brain’s ability to fall asleep.
What can you do to improve your sleep?
- Stick to regular sleep and wake times. Going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day makes your body “prepared” to fall asleep and wake up when you need it to. Yes, this means going to bed and waking up at about the same time on weekends. Try not to sleep in on weekends to play “catch up” on the weekends as this is not effective and does not prepare you for the week ahead.
- Create a sleep-friendly physical environment. The bedroom should be comfortable, cool, quiet, and dark. A bedroom that is warmer than 75 degrees can make it harder to fall and stay asleep. The bed should only be used for sleeping. Try NOT to do homework or hang out in your bed during waking hours.
- Ditch the screens! Texting, social media and the internet are the enemy of sleep. Not only do activities like texting, gaming and social media keep you alert, if you do fall asleep, getting texts and updates can wake you back up. Research also shows that the light from screens before bed messes with your brain’s ability to sleep. Try to stop using screens an hour before bedtime and leave devices outside the bedroom so they can’t distract you. Try setting limits on your phone so that it shifts to “sleep mode” prior to bedtime so that you are not getting alerted by notifications.
- No napping! Naps (especially longer ones after 3pm) can throw off your ability to fall asleep at bedtime. Many teens also find that they wake up from naps with less energy and motivation for things they need to do, like homework.
- Avoid caffeine, smoking, alcohol and drugs.
- Move your body! Incorporate exercise into your daily routine, but not within one hour of bedtime. Exercising during the day may help you fall asleep more easily and sleep more deeply.
- Go outside for some time every day. Getting sun exposure helps your body keep its internal clock on track. Spending 10-15 minutes in the morning sunlight WITHOUT sunglasses can help to wake you up.
- Eat meals regularly, and avoid going to bed on an empty stomach. However, do not eat a full meal an hour before bed, and try to opt for a light snack instead.
As always, if you are having difficulty with your sleep schedule or just difficulty sleeping in general, talk to your provider. We are here to help you get your ZZZZZZZZZs!
This information is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call your clinic.
This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.
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