I remember what it was like to have two teenage sons who were always exhausted and never seemed to get enough sleep. Being that both are well over six feet tall, I assumed they were just tired from growing so rapidly. Are you the caregiver of a teen who is always sleepy? Do you find yourself repeatedly coaxing your teen to wake up and get ready for school in the dark early morning hours?
As with adults, individual teen sleep needs vary. If your teen is getting enough sleep he will awaken alert and refreshed. But if he’s repeatedly hitting the snooze button, he’s definitely not getting enough sleep.
Just how much sleep does your teen actually need? The Canadian Sleep Society recommends that you add an hour to whatever amount of sleep your teen got or needed as a preteen. Generally speaking, teens need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep every night because of their rapid body growth. To get this amount of sleep, your teen’s bedtime should be somewhere between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.
To help your teen get enough sleep, I have included several hints – not every suggestion will be helpful for your teen. Several combined approaches may result in your having a happier, more relaxed young person.
Encourage your teen to:
- Follow a relaxed bedtime routine. Fall asleep in her bed and not in front of the television. The bedroom should be cool, dark and quiet.
- On weekends, awaken within 2 – 4 hours of her usual wake time – no matter what time she went to bed at.
- Try to be in bed with lights out at least 8 hours per night and go to bed at the same time each night.
- Put all electronics to sleep an hour before she tucks in. The flickering light from computers, TV screens and cell phone screens keep your brain in wake mode.
- Open the curtains or turn on the lights as soon as she gets up in the morning.
- Exercise every day for 30 min. but avoid hard exercise in the evening.
- Use one’s bed only for rest and sleep.
Suggest your teen avoid:
- Products containing caffeine (coffee, teas, colas, energy drinks, chocolate, some painkillers) after mid – afternoon.
- A heavy meal just before going to bed. Do not skip meals.
- Alcohol as it will disturb sleep and may cause early morning awakening.
- “Screen-Time activity” at least 1 hour before bed. Electronics activate the brain and make it hard to fall asleep.
- Doing homework in bed.
- Napping during the day. If he does, keep it short – less than 30 minutes. And no naps after supper!
If you or your teen is concerned about daytime drowsiness or sleep problems, contact your Primary Health Care provider.
Do you or your teen have other tips to help with getting enough sleep?
Share your experience:
For more tips and hints about your teen’s sleep, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:
- Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
- Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dial 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
About this guest blogger:
Fran Jones, RN is a Public Health Nurse on the Mental Health Liaison Team. For over 10 years she has been working with youth, caregivers and educators to promote the health and well-being of Halton Region Secondary School Students.