If you’re the parent of a teen, you probably have more than enough on your hands without worrying about how much sleep your child gets. The issue is that regular sleep deprivation can affect teens even more than it affects adults. Sleep deprivation can increase chances of health issues like diabetes, negatively affect mental health, and compromise their decision-making abilities at a pretty pivotal time in young people’s lives. Teens are growing into adults and, according to the CDC, need on average nine hours of sleep a night to optimize their health and growth.
The good news is that there’s some simple things you can do to make sure your teen is getting the right shuteye. Take a look into these five easy steps, reviewed by clinical psychologist Dr. Jacquelyn Johnson, to help your teen get the good sleep they need.
Set a bedtime
According to the CDC, teens whose parents set a bedtime are more likely to get the sleep they need. Lightly enforcing a time for lights out can introduce some very beneficial structure for your adolescent. You can even avoid giving orders by fostering a calm environment in the house, winding the mood down by dimming lights or reducing noise. Try also to avoid late-night disputes and have them finish their homework long before bedtime.
Teach them to cope with stress
Stress basically sends us into a fight-or-flight state, and it is not conducive to good sleep, especially when you think about stressful things when you close your eyes. Help your teen process their stress by keeping open communication, teaching them to name their feelings, reframing negative thoughts, and getting them involved in extracurricular activities. Also help them with stressful future events like tests or public speaking.
Create the right environment
Good sleep hygiene has many factors. Some you might focus on are regular exercise (but not right before bed), healthy diet (also not before bed), low fluid intake before bed, going to bed and waking up at the same regular times, keeping the bedroom cool and dark, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine, like reading or a warm shower.
Make your teen’s bedroom a comfortable and stress-free space
We should all think of our bedroom as a place of peaceful respite. One way to help this is keeping work out of the sleeping area. You can also paint the room a soothing color, use essential oils, or put in some lamps with soft lighting. Having your teen come to the store and select the mattress that they prefer would also help.
Reduce screen time
Most of us these days have a problem detaching from our phones. Screens at night, though, can reduce melatonin and increase alertness. Incoming messages or alerts can also break up the night into increments of unsatisfying sleep, so it’s better for all of us to try to sleep without our phones or turn them off. Old-fashioned methods of relaxing, like reading, are a much better way to drift off.