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04 June 2010

Help teens get the sleep they need

Many teens are sleep-deprived. Here's why this is so common and what you can do to help teens get the sleep they need.

Most teens require at least nine hours of sleep but get much, much less.

During puberty, the biological clock in the brain naturally resets to a later time. The pineal gland releases melatonin later at night and this causes teens to fall asleep later. Then, when it’s time to get up, a teenager’s body clock is likely to still be producing the nighttime hormones. This makes it hard for them to feel active and energetic in the morning.

  • Stress the importance of a consistent bedtime.
  • Help teens to learn relaxation techniques in order to unwind and signal the body that it’s time for sleep. Encourage them to practice creative visualisation and progressive relaxation techniques. Putting their thoughts and worries in a journal often helps them to put their problems to rest, enabling them to sleep.
  • Have them turn off all electronic equipment (including phones) at least an hour before bed.
  • Discourage them from drinking caffeinated drinks in the afternoon and evening.
  • Encourage regular exercise, especially outside in the morning. (Morning sunshine can help to reset the internal clock.)
  • Although teens are likely to sleep in on the weekend, don’t let them sleep in for more than a total of two hours over the entire weekend.
  • Simulate the dawn by opening the curtains and turning on the lights an hour before your teen needs to get up.
  • And don’t forget to warn them about the dangers of driving while drowsy!

 
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