Sleep Hygiene for Teens
Updated: Nov 5
Reseach shows teenagers need an average of 8-10 hours of sleep a night. With early school start times, homework, extracurricular activities, and a desire to stay connected socially, it is easy to see how many of our teens are not getting enough sleep. However, getting enough sleep plays an important role in physical and mental development.
Getting good sleep has many benefits, especially for teenagers who spend the majority of their time in school. It promotes attention, memory, and reaction and processing time. Sleep also helps facilitate expansive thinking, which can impact learning and creativity. Additionally, sleep helps support the immune system, regulates hormones, and supports muscle and tissue recovery and growth.
Sleep deprivation affects us just as much. A lack of sleep can increase blood pressure, inflammation, and cholesterol levels in our bodies, which in turn can increase one’s chance of developing diabetes or cardiovascular problems. Sleep deprivation can also affect the development of our frontal lobes, which is the part of our brain that controls judgment and decision-making. Teenagers who are sleep deprived, therefore, engage more in high risk behaviors such as texting while driving, fighting, and substance use/abuse. Additionally, a lack of sleep can lead to a decrease in motivation, increase in irritability, and exacerbate or increase one’s chances of developing mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety.
Here are three tips to increase sleep and help you practice good sleep hygiene:
Avoid blue light. Don’t look at electronics in bed or right before bed. Screen time can be incredibly stimulating for our brains and the notifications can disrupt sleep later on. Light exposure also can suppress melatonin production, which is the hormone that increases sleepiness/drowsiness.
Have a consistent bedtime. Keeping a consistent schedule whether it’s the weekend or a weekday allows us to maintain regular timing of our internal clock and helps us fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up easier the next morning.
Have a wind-down routine. Making sure that your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet as well as having comfortable mattresses, pillows, and blankets can enhance the quality of sleep we get each night. Additionally, try avoiding caffeine, energy drinks, and other sugary foods before bed as they will keep your brain more awake even if feeling tired.