Despite needing over 9 hours of sleep a night, your teen is likely getting closer to only 7 hours, and that’s a huge problem.
Sleep deprivation in teens affects their mental health and their ability to focus on their studies. It can make them more prone to depression and anxiety.
So what can you do to take an already rebellious and sleep adverse teen and encourage them to practice healthy sleep habits?
Here’s how to encourage proper sleep hygiene for teens so you can help them lead long, happy lives.
Talk About Why Sleep Matters
One of the reasons that as adults we (hopefully) practice healthy sleep patterns is because we understand how vital it is to our health. Your teen may be more rebellious because they don’t understand how vital sleep is.
Take time to educate yourself on the long term health benefits of proper sleep, and teach them to your teen. If they understand how important sleep is to their health, they’ll be more likely to comply.
Remember to give your teen control over their sleep. If they feel like you’re controlling, they’ll be more likely to rebel, even if it goes against their own best interests.
Make Sure Their Bed Is Comfy
Your teen should be comfortable when they fall asleep. Ask them about their mattress, pillows, sheets, and even sleeping style.
For example, if your teen is a stomach sleeper, they may get a better night’s sleep on a mattress designed for stomach sleepers.
If you think it could help, upgrade their bed and bedding to make it easier for them to fall asleep.
Don’t Let Them Take Their Screens to Bed
Blue light from laptops, phones, computers, and TVs tricks our brains into thinking it’s still light out and can make it harder to fall asleep. Bedrooms should be a screen-free zone.
But at the very least, you need to make sure your kids aren’t taking their screens to bed. Consider having a separate charging area for phones and laptops and explain why it matters.
Practice a Bedtime Routine
When you practice the same bedtime pattern every night, your body learns that certain habits precede sleep. This makes it easier to fall asleep.
Consider encouraging a journaling practice and setting out clothes and school supplies for the next day. Make sure they brush and floss their teeth. After a while of following the same routine, it’ll help settle your teen’s brain and teach their bodies it’s time for bed.
Burning energy throughout the day makes it easier to fall asleep at night. Experts recommend teens get 60 minutes of aerobic activity every day. If they take part in gym class or sports, they’re already getting the exercise they need.
If not, encourage them to pick up a sport or other athletic activity like yoga, weightlifting, rock climbing, or whatever interests them.
Encourage Them to Control Their Caffeine Intake
Coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks are all laced with caffeine, and if your teen is drinking them late into the day, it’s affecting their sleep. It takes caffeine about 6 hours to work its way completely out of their system.
If they want to enjoy caffeine in the morning, that’s alright. But make sure they don’t have caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime – usually close to 3 or 4 pm, right as they’re getting out of school.
Keep a Consistent Schedule
While your teen may want to sleep in on the weekend, this can make it harder to fall asleep on time when Sunday rolls around. Encourage your teen to keep the same sleep schedule every day of the week.
Give Them a Way to Vent Stress
Many teens have insomnia, or they’re stressed about school, life, and the world moving forward. That’s normal, but it can impact their ability to fall asleep.
Make sure they have a safe environment where they can work through these stresses. Journaling is a good practice, but you may want to encourage your teen to see a therapist too. This can make it easier to spot other symptoms of depression and anxiety too, so your teen can get the help they need.
Regulate Sleep With Natural Light Patterns
Add blackout curtains to your teen’s window, and encourage them to open the curtains first thing in the morning. Historically, our sleeping and waking patterns were controlled by the sun and natural light cycles.
Waking with the light and watching the sunset can trigger your teen’s brain to follow more natural sleep cycles.
Encourage Alternative Sleep Hacks
All these tips can help your teen practice better sleep hygiene, but it’s okay to break out the natural sleep hacks too.
Try a lavender-scented spray or diffuser on their pillow or in their room. Give your teen a cup of sleepy-time tea before bed, or let them have melatonin.
It’s okay to use natural hacks to make it easier to fall asleep, and they may be exactly what your teen needs.
Proper Sleep Hygiene for Teens Is Essential for Their Wellbeing
Enforcing and encouraging proper sleep hygiene for teens isn’t easy. By explaining the health benefits of proper sleep, encouraging healthy habits, and making their bed an inviting place, you’re on the right track.
These healthy sleep habits are the same ones you should be following as a parent and an adult. So when your teen sees you modeling healthy behavior, they’ll be less likely to fight back.
Kids aren’t cheap, and parenting is hard. That’s why we’re here to help. Keep exploring for more tips to help with all your money and parenting questions.