Healthy sleep habits can improve our mental, physical, and emotional health. Good sleep hygiene for teens helps support better quantity and quality sleep. We explore the what, why, and how of sleep hygiene for teens. In addition, we break down 8 sleep hygiene tips! Share this article with a teenager to help them with a good night’s sleep.
This article is repurposed from PLT4M’s sleep lesson plans unit. Reach out to learn more!
What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to a set of practices and habits that are conducive to good, restful sleep. These practices are designed to optimize the quantity and quality of sleep by creating a supportive sleep environment and promoting healthy sleep patterns (like sleep stages and circadian rhythm).
The term “hygiene” in this context refers to habits and practices that contribute to overall well-being in the realm of sleep. While many of these sleep hygiene habits are for right before and during our bedtime routine, sleep hygiene also refers to other habits and practices throughout our day.
Importance Of Sleep Hygiene For Teens
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is a leading authority on sleep research and has provided statistics on sleep needs or optimal sleep duration across different age groups. According to the NSF, they have listed these sleep time suggestions for the following groups:
6-13 years old: 9-11 hours
14-17 years old: 8-10 hours
18-64 years old: 7-9 hours
But, research has found that 73% of high school students don’t get enough sleep. And poor sleep quality and quantity can have negative consequences on teenagers mental, emotional, and physical health. Altogether, an insufficient night sleep can impact everything from academic performance, relationships, fighting off colds, and more.
Therefore, sleep hygiene for teens can instill good sleep habits that can help teenagers reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
8 Tips Sleep Hygiene For Teens
Below are 8 tips on sleep hygiene for teens. These are pulled directly from PLT4M’s sleep lesson plans that cover the foundational elements of sleep for teenagers. These simple tips can help our young people get a better night’s sleep on a consistent basis.
1. Consistent Sleep Schedule:
Maintain a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock aka the circadian rhythm we talked about last lesson.
The circadian rhythm influences the time we feel naturally inclined to fall asleep, contributing to the onset of sleepiness in the evening. Proper alignment with the circadian rhythm supports the maintenance of healthy sleep architecture, ensuring the occurrence of essential sleep stages in our sleep cycle for physical and mental restoration.
School nights and weekends might keep you up late for different reasons, but locking down a consistent sleep schedule is so crucial!
2. Bedtime Routine:
Develop a calming pre-sleep routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. This may include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques. We often go from racing around doing homework or watching TV to immediately trying to fall sleep. But it is a good idea to calm yourself down before trying to get a good night sleep.
3. Optimized Sleep Environment:
This one will vary based on who you live with, where you live, and the space you have to sleep. But many people suggest creating a comfortable and conducive sleep environment by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine if needed.
Again, this might be challenging to achieve if you share a room, live in a city, or have family members that make noise when you try to sleep, but see what you can do to create an optimal sleeping environment.
4. Limit Stimulants:
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and sugar close to bedtime, as they can interfere with the ability to fall asleep.
For example, let’s look closer at caffeine. Caffeine, commonly found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks, is a stimulant that can enhance alertness and focus. However, its half-life or how long it takes for half of the substance to be eliminated from the body varies among individuals. Consuming caffeine too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep onset and reduce overall sleep quality.
Instead, opt for decaffeinated beverages or soothing herbal teas. In addition, nicotine and alcohol are both proven to alter and effect sleep.
5. Mindful Nutrition and Hydration:
Diet plays a significant role in influencing sleep quality and patterns. The foods and beverages you consume can affect various aspects of sleep, including the time it takes to fall asleep, the duration of sleep, and the overall quality of sleep.
Be mindful of your diet, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. Avoid heavy or spicy meals that may cause discomfort and indigestion. If we load up on snacks and desserts right before bed, it might make falling asleep a lot harder. This is because now our body is working hard to process food and digest, rather than focusing on falling asleep!
In addition to food, be considerate of how much water and liquids you drink before bed. We all know the annoying feeling of getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom!
6. Limit Screen Time:
Phones and devices probably have the biggest impact on sleep hygiene for teens!
Reduce exposure to screens with blue light, such as phones, tablets, and computers, at least an hour before bedtime. Blue light can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
But beyond blue light, if we are scrolling through social media or texting, we aren’t giving our body the proper chance to wind down, which can make falling asleep even more difficult if we keep reaching for our phone!
If an hour without technology seems like it isn’t possible, try to leave your phone or device outside of your bedroom or away from your bed so that it isn’t the last thing you are looking at before closing your eyes to sleep. This one can be hard, but is one of the best ways to get yourself into a peaceful sleep.
7. Regular Exercise:
Regular exercise has been shown to have positive effects on sleep quality and can contribute to better and more restful sleep. Here are some ways in which exercise can improve sleep:
Engage in regular physical activity, but try to complete your workout at least a few hours before bedtime. Exercise promotes better sleep but can be stimulating if done too close to bedtime.
8. Manage Stress
Stress can lead to a heightened state of arousal, making it difficult for teenagers to relax and unwind when it’s time to go to bed. Racing thoughts and worries can prevent the mind from settling down, delaying the onset of sleep.
In addition, stress can lead to sleep disruption in the middle of the night. An extreme example would be getting woken up from a bad dream that has been caused by lots of worry and stress.
Key Takeaways on Sleep Hygiene For Teens
By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you can create an environment that supports healthy sleep patterns and contributes to overall well-being. Consistently practicing good sleep hygiene for teens can lead to improved sleep quality and better physical and mental health.
As you explore this list of different sleep hygiene tips, some might not be possible or practical for you. But try to find at least one or two things you can work on to achieve a better night sleep.