Teens are among those least likely to get their suggested amount of sleep to stay healthy—doctors suggest young people between the ages of 13 and 17 should be getting at least 9 hours of sleep per night.
Yet, reports show that an estimated 90% of high school students in the US are chronically sleep-deprived, often leading to poor school performance, fatigue and inability to concentrate. If your teen is struggling to get their recommended hours of sleep, try these 5 easy tips and tricks to getting them back on track.
Make mornings easier.
Your morning routine likely starts well before your teen is even out of bed, so try making small changes that will make their morning easier and smoother. Prep needed school supplies and lunches the night before, and have everything ready in time for your student to get off to school. This will allow a few more precious minutes or hours of sleep for your teen that might have gotten to sleep later than intended the night before.
Keep an eye on the lights indoors.
Your teen likely doesn't know the impact that light can have on their sleep schedule, so you can make a significant impact. As the night is winding down, aim to have lights dimmed about an hour before bedtime, and limit exposure to the light emitted by smartphones, computer screens and tablets. This particular type of light actually limits the natural levels of melatonin, which can cause insomnia and difficulty drifting off to sleep. If your teen is resistant to giving up the late-night texting, try an app like F.LUX that automatically changes the light on a computer or phone as it gets closer to bedtime.
Control the activities your teen engages in while in bed.
When managed correctly, the brain will often associate bed with sleep. Those with healthy sleep habits often find that simply laying in bed with usher in sleep. However, the brain also makes strong connections between regular activities and location as well, so if you teen is texting and surfing the web while laying in bed, this could be forming an unwanted association between their bed and being awake. Try limiting activities like this to other parts of the house, like the living room, so the bedroom can better trigger the production of healthy sleep chemicals in your teen.
Keep a schedule.
It's tempting to let your teen control the weekend by going to bed late and sleeping through the morning, but this method is counterproductive to getting quality sleep during the school week. You’ll find it almost impossible to change back to a school schedule on Sunday night, so keep your teen’s schedule as consistent as possible while still allowing some freedom to enjoy the weekend by adjusting sleep and wake times by an hour at most.
Invest in the right bed.
Your teen deserves a mattress that will be comfortable and supportive night after night. This is especially true if your teen plans to take their mattress with them to college and beyond—a likely scenario, since most mattresses are slept on for 10 or more years before being replaced. If you haven't already, take your teen shopping with you when searching for a new mattress. Let them be an active part of the decision-making process, which will likely lead to greater interest in getting regular quality sleep. Decades from now, they'll thank you!