Tips to Improve Your Adolescent’s Sleep

Make a Schedule. Set a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake-up at the same time every night. Continue this routine even on weekends and vacations. I know your teen may not like this idea. Ask your teen to give it a try for a week to see how much better he or she feels. The schedule should not be interupted for more than two consecutive nights. Encourage them to avoid delaying bedtime for more than one hour. Awaken them the next day within two hours of the regular time.The Importance of Light. Teens should be exposed to bright light as soon as possible in the morning, but they should avoid it in the evening. The light signals the brain that its time to wake-up. Keep in mind that electronic light from computers, televisions, video games, etc. has the same effect as light, and therefore should be avoided close to bedtime. Teens should not have electronics in their rooms. Optimize Schedule for Sleep Patterns. Sleep patterns are biological and behavioral. Help your teens understand their circadian rhythms, and encourage them to optimize their schedule throughout the day based on their internal clocks. For example, encourage your teens to participate in stimulating activities or classes that are interactive first thing in the morning and late in the day if possible. Try not to take the most difficult classes at those times. Recognize Signs of Sleep Deprivation. If your teen requires more than one alarm to get up in the morning, if you find yourself shouting at the foot of your teen’s bed most days to get him or her up on the morning or if they are falling asleep during the day, they are almost certainly not getting enough sleep at night. Be in touch their teachers to find out how alert they appear during the day at school. Be aware that many signs of sleep deprivation, like difficulty focusing or remembering, can look a lot like signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Educate Your Teen About Sleep. Help your son or daughter understand inadequate sleep can affect them. Poor sleeping habits can make them more irritable or depressed and can make it difficult for them to get along with others. Grades and relationships can suffer as a result of poor sleep. Nap. Naps are fine if they are not too late and not too long. Naps need to be less than an hour and taken before late afternoon. Keep and Eye On What They Eat and Drink. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and should be avoided particularly in the afternoon. Alcohol also can disturb sleep. Wind Down Before Bedtime. Teens should avoid studying, television, computer games, texting, etc. within one hour of going to bed. Don’t let them fall asleep with the television on as the light and sound will inhibit sleep. Get Help. If you think your teenager is not sleeping adequately at night, consult your primary care practitioner or a sleep specialist. Excessive sleepiness during the day and other sleep problems can indicate an underlying, biological sleep disorder, such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea and periodic limb movement disorder, or a circadian rhythm disorder such as delayed sleep phase syndrome. In most cases, symptoms of sleep disorders can be effectively treated.