Helpful Sleep Hygiene Tips for Parents

Foster Healthy Sleep Habits for YourKids and Teens

How important is good sleep hygiene for your kids and teens?

You probably know that sleep is important for your kids and teens– but chances are, you might not know just how vital getting a healthy night’s sleep can be for their growing bodies.

Scientists have established that just like a healthy diet and exercise, sleep is critical for teens to stay healthy, grow, learn, do well in school, and function at their best. The primary consequences of poor sleep among children and teens are behavior problems, impaired learning and school performance, mood and emotion problems, and worse health including obesity.

Concerning new evidence also indicates that adolescents’ sleep may be related to high-risk behaviors such as substance use, suicidal behaviors, and drowsy driving. A recent study found that greater media use in teens was linked to a higher body mass index, largely because of reduced sleep time.

How does blue lightaffects kids and sleep?

As difficult as it is to get kids to stop watching TV or using their electronic devices before bedtime, there’s a compelling reason to make it happen, according to The National Sleep Foundation. The blue light emitted from these screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness, and reset the body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm) to a later schedule. This is an especially big problem for teens whose circadian rhythms are already shifting naturally, causing them to feel awake later at night.

The result: sleep-deprived or poorly rested kids who have essentially given themselves a mini case of jet lag.

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Is your child or teen getting adequate sleep?

It’s not just a matter of getting sufficient sleep quantity – children and adolescents, like adults, also need adequate sleep quality. Young children can be deceptively hyperactive with insufficient sleep or because of a sleep disorder. Of course, any child or adolescent (or their parent) who snores, falls asleep at inappropriate times, or has other sleep disorders symptoms should talk to their doctor as soon as possible.

A major developmental change during adolescence is that their body’s clock moves to a later timing for sleep. However, this is only thought to be about one hour of a change; another two hours of change is due to social factors, such as work or school pressures and access to technology. As with adults, balancing these time pressures is hard work.

To help meet these challenges, families can work together to make sleep hygiene a priority, so that everyone has the opportunity to sleep as much as they need in a safe, quiet, comfortable environment.

Sleep Tips for your teens
  • Tip #1
    Take a stand.

    Teenagers will resist, but there’s evidence that parental help with limit-setting on study and sleep does help kids make better decisions about managing their time.

  • Tip #2
    Encourage consistency.

    It’s important for your teen to go to bed as close as possible to the same time every night, and to get as close as possible to eight hours of sleep. But it’s also important for him to stick to the same schedule - within reason - on the weekends.

  • Tip #3
    Limit screen time

    Emphasize the importance of turning off all electronic devices a minimum of one hour before bed. Plan ahead so that homework that needs to be done on a screen is completed by early evening and “off-screen” work is saved for later at night. That also means no "unwinding" by going on Facebook or Instagram. Social media is a great place to find new sources of anxiety to chase away sleep.

  • Tip #4
    Sleep hygiene tips for your teens.

    According to the Child Mind Institute, there are lifestyle changes that middle and high-schoolers can make, and even several small changes can have a big effect on their well-being.

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