Committing Your Teen to a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Have you gotten used to seeing the glow of screens from beneath your teen’s door late into the night? Or maybe you’ve noticed how hard it is to wake them up in the morning for school. Sleep is such an integral part of our lives that we often take it for granted. But a healthy sleep schedule is crucial to the mental and physical health of teens. Just telling your teen to go to bed earlier may not solve the problem, but there are ways that you can address the issue of lack of sleep and set up better sleep habits for your teen.
The Importance of Sleep
According to Johns Hopkins pediatrician Michael Crocetti, M.D., M.P.H. , teens need nine to nine and a half hours of sleep per night. Crocetti explains: “Teenagers are going through a second developmental stage of cognitive maturation.” Sleep supports their developing brain, as well as physical growth spurts. It also helps protect them from serious consequences like depression or drug use. Sleep is believed to help regulate emotions, and its deprivation is an underlying component of many mood disorders, such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. For students who are prone to these disorders, better sleep can help serve as a buffer and help prevent a downhill slide.
Teens are also biologically disposed to a later sleep time because of a shift in the system that governs the natural sleep-wake cycle. Among older teens, the push to fall asleep builds more slowly during the day, signaling them to be more alert in the evening. Add to this the pressure from piles of homework and the desire to stay up late to text or talk to friends, and it’s the perfect storm to create negative sleep patterns.
Creating a Healthy Sleep Schedule
- Remove Tech From the Bedroom: Technology is one of the biggest reasons teens stay awake late into the night. Texting friends or scrolling through social media can turn from a few minutes into a few hours. By removing the temptation, you can help your teen make the better choice to go to sleep at a regular time.
- Start the Day in Sunshine: Beginning the day by opening the curtains and having breakfast in a room lit by natural light cues the body’s circadian rhythms. This makes it easier for teens to wake up in the morning and then all asleep at night.
- Help Them Rethink Their Schedule: Does your teen usually start their homework after dinner? Starting homework later in the evening can lead to them staying up later at night trying to finish all their assignments. Instead, suggest that they start their homework after school, which will give them the time they need to complete it and still get to bed at a reasonable time.
- Be Mindful of Their Mental Health: If your teen is struggling to fall asleep at night, talk with them about what is keeping them awake at night. Maybe they’re feeling stressed about something at school, or experiencing anxiety that is making it challenging to fall asleep. If their mental health is having a negative effect on their sleep, it is important to address the root cause.
Trails Carolina Can Help
At Trails Carolina, our wilderness therapy program’s mission is to give your child the confidence, coping mechanisms, and communication skills that will help them become the best version of themselves. Throughout our wilderness program, families restore and rebuild their relationship with their child.
We believe that by connecting with nature in a wilderness therapy setting, your child can learn to address their problematic behaviors, gain valuable personal insights, and learn important lessons. Free from the distractions and negative influences of everyday life, they can focus on their own personal growth and healing process.
Our multidisciplinary team of caring, expert staff will be there to guide your child along their unique path to psychological and emotional wellness. This journey can lead to a renewed sense of self and a happier, healthier future brimming with opportunity. For more information please call (800) 975-7303.