Teens and Sleep : How to Help Improve Their Sleep Without Pushback

As a sleep expert and a parent myself, I understand the struggles that teenagers face in getting enough sleep.  Teenagers need somewhere between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night, but this can often seem impossible with their busy schedules and screen time habits.  It is crucial that your teen does get the adequate amount of sleep every night, due to sleep deprivations lasting impact on their mental health and growth and development.

The Impact of Sleep and Sleep Deprivation on Teens

Sleep plays a vital role in a teenager’s physical and mental well-being.  Adequate sleep is crucial for their growth, development, cognitive function and emotional regulation.  I realize though that it is not always easy to talk to your teenager about things that are important to their health, as they navigate through this sometimes confusing and difficult time in their life.  I encourage you to sit down with them and talk to them about the lasting impact that sleep deprivation can have on their body and brain, and help by giving them the tips below to encourage them to get better sleep.

Lack of sleep can impact your teenagers mood, which I am sure you have witnessed!  It can affect their mood, behavior and social interactions.   Sleep deprivation will affect their performance at school and in their extracurricular activities.  There is a term I use often, sleep debt or sleep deprivation, which is basically the difference between the amount of sleep one actually needs vs. how much one actually gets, and it can actually contribute to the body breaking down.  Encouraging healthy sleep habits and talking to your teen about the negative affects, can ultimately improve their well-being.

The Impacts of Blue Light and Screen Time

Exposure to blue light from screens can disrupt your teenagers circadian rhythm or “body clock”, making it more difficult for them to fall asleep. Encouraging a screen- free zone at least an hour before bed can help improve your child’s sleep quality.

The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health and Sleep for Your Teen

Excessive use of social media can negatively impact a teenager’s mental health, leading to anxiety and stress that can disrupt their sleep patterns. Take a second to think about a scenario when you have tried to go to bed anxious or upset about something.  I am sure that you did not fall asleep as easily, and most likely did not get great overall sleep that night.  The same goes for your teen.  It’s essential to discuss the importance of setting boundaries and practicing mindfulness to maintain a healthy balance in their life.

Tips to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep:

  1. Establish a Bedtime Routine: Sit down with your teen and talk to them about the benefits of a routine before bed.  Explaining to them that it helps cue their body and their brain for bedtime.  Encourage them to unwind before bed with calming activities like taking a bath, listening to music or reading a book.
  2. Create a Scree-Free Zone:  Limit screen time in the evening to reduce their exposure to blue light and to help with anxiety and mental stress.
  3. Practice mindfulness: Encourage mindfulness practices like deep breathing or meditation to help your teen relax before bed.
  4. Get Fresh Air and Sunlight:  Exposure to natural light during the day and fresh air can help regulator their sleep-wake cycle.
  5. Set and Example:  Practice these tips yourself.  Show your teen how these practices help you at the end of the day get the sleep that you need to have a productive and successful day.

Setting Boundaries as a Parent

It is essential to be firm, yet understanding when setting boundaries for your teenagers sleep habits.  Communicate openly about the importance of sleep and how it can positively impact their daily life.  While we all want our children to be involved in various activities after school, be aware of overscheduling and make sure that the schedule allows for sufficient sleep for the majority of nights of the week.

By implementing these tips and fostering open communication with your teenager about the importance of sleep, you can help them achieve better sleep quality and overall well-being. Open communication and understanding, can go a long way in avoiding pushback from your teen.  Lead by example and share with them the negative effects that it can have on their well being.  Enjoy listening to podcasts and want to learn more? Check out my interview: the parenting reset show : sleep-skills-for-tweens-and-teens.  Remember, a well rested teenager is a happier and healthier teenager.


Ready to help your teenager sleep better or feel that other parents could benefit from my sleep guidance?  Contact me today to learn more about sleep workshops and seminars for your child’s local school or organization.

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