6 tips to help teens get enough sleep
Teens never seem to want to go to sleep or wake up in the morning. And it might not be their fault.
Researchers have found that because so many changes are taking place in a teens’ body, their internal clock may slow down, making it harder for them to get up early and causing deeper sleep to occur.
The vast majority of teens, 59 percent of middle school students and 87 percent of high school students in the U.S., get less than the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep on school nights, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
While teens may not realize that they are sleep deprived, Dr. Darius Loghmanee, a pediatric sleep medicine physician with Advocate Children’s Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill., says some of the negative consequences of not getting enough sleep include: inhibited creativity, trouble dealing with stress, being emotional, mood swings and a compromised immune system.
While some of these behaviors may seem normal for a teen, sleep deprivation heightens these reactions.
Dr. Loghmanee says it’s important for parents to help their kids get enough sleep by encouraging them to get to bed early and maintain a consistent bed time.
“Parents should be aware though that sometimes the additional anxiety caused by their inability to comply with their parents’ suggestion of falling asleep earlier can provide another powerful barrier to falling asleep,” he says. “Waking up is a matter of will; falling asleep, especially with a delayed circadian sleep phase, is a matter of physiology.”
Dr. Loghmanee says parents can help teens by waking them up in the morning as well. He also offers six tips to help teens get a good night’s sleep:
- Stay out of bed unless you are sleepy.
- If you find yourself laying wide awake, get up and perform a non-stimulating task in low light without an electronic device such as reading your favorite book.
- Journaling can be an effective means of relaxation prior to bed to review the day and make a list of things to be done the next day. This can help avoid anxiety and racing thoughts before bedtime.
- Napping should be avoided after school.
- Keep a consistent wake up time. Only sleep in one extra hour on the weekends.
- Get as much bright light as possible upon awaking in the morning.
A growing number of parents, teachers, community members, health care providers, and elected officials, recognize the harmful effects that early school start times are having on adolescents’ sleep, and are lobbying for delaying school start times.
“Just last year the American Academy of Pediatrics made the recommendation for delayed start times,” he says. “Until such changes are enacted, however, teens and their families can work together to implement these practices to help establish a consistent sleep/wake cycle during the school year.”
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