Believe it or not adolescents need around 9 hours of sleep a night to function optimally and to be physically and mentally healthy. However, telling your teens they need to sleep for this amount of time every night, it’s likely they’ll just laugh at you! What teenager has time to sleep for 9 hours a night, with busy exam revision schedules, hectic social lives and the constant buzzing of their phone? In fact, recent studies show that only 8% of teens get the sleep they need, with others averaging on around 6 hours on school nights. We know how vital a good night’s rest is for teenagers, which is why we’ve put together some easy changes that are sure to have a positive effect on their well-being and happiness.
Parents do know best!
We all know that as soon as your children hit puberty, they can start to ignore things you say and dismiss rules you’ve set in place. However, there’s plenty of evidence showing that parents who set limits around bedtimes and media usage actually help teens make better decisions in the long run. Make sure you remind yourself of this and even when you think they’re not going to listen, simply remind them of why you’re encouraging specific rules.
Consistency really is the key when it comes to building healthy sleeping habits and ensuring your teens get the 8-9 hours they need per night. Firstly, you need to ensure that your teen goes to bed as close as possible to the same time every night, but to also stick to the same schedule during the weekends. If their sleep pattern shifts dramatically on a Friday and Saturday night, the chances of getting it back to normal on a Sunday are going to be slim.
It’s definitely an easier job to enforce set bedtimes for younger children and much trickier when it comes to teenagers. You both need to be willing to put in the effort, and as parents, commit to showing them the importance of getting enough sleep. Typically teens aren’t likely to change their sleeping habits until they realise that sleep will make them feel better and also improve their performance and concentration at school.
No late-night snacks!
We all know how much teens love to snack late at night, just because they ‘can.’ Remember, a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar just before going to bed isn’t going to help them drift off - in fact, quite the opposite and can postpone sleep. Make sure your teenagers know that snacking after a certain time is off limits and we guarantee they’ll find falling asleep so much easier!
The easier the morning routine, the more time your teenager has to sleep. Encourage them to get uniforms and clothes ready, pack up books, complete due in homework and shower the night before, meaning they don’t have to spend time doing these tasks in the morning.
Screens off an hour before bed
Finally, limiting screen time in the evenings is perhaps the most important change to implement. So much research has found that turning off all electric screens and devices and hour before bedtime is extremely beneficial when it comes to falling asleep and quality of sleep. Electronic screens emit a glow otherwise known as a ‘blue light’, which has been proven to send signals to the brain, suppressing the production of melatonin, preventing teens from feeling tired. So, if there’s one rule you start to introduce first, make it this one! No more ‘chilling out’ by scrolling through Facebook or Instagram - encourage teens to read a book instead. This is going to relax their brain, and they’ll be drifting off in no time at all! You could even point them in the direction of our summer reading challenge, designed specifically to get kids and teens reading more.