Originally published: January 2021
As parents, there can be many reasons we don’t get enough sleep. Many of us have packed schedules, and some may be experiencing lifestyle changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to know that we deserve a good night’s rest! To promote healthy sleep habits in the home, the first step is to reflect on your own sleep habits. Keep reading for tips on this!
For teens, sleep is especially important. Getting regular, quality sleep helps with:
- Growth and development
- Memory, focus, and learning
- Managing emotions and making social connections
- Maintaining a healthy immune system
Teens experience different sleep barriers than other age groups. They may start feeling tired later in the evening, and tend to go to bed later. This change in sleep cycle is common and generally starts in early adolescence.
The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth suggest that 14-17 year olds get 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Here are some helpful tips for your teen and your whole family:
- Find a time that works. It’s natural for teens to want to go to bed closer to 11pm or midnight, and wake up around 8am or 9am. While commitments like school and work can affect this timing, try to find a time that works well for your teen. Be consistent with sleep and wake times, even on the weekends.
- Consider the environment. The physical environment includes lighting, temperature, ambience, and noise. Help your teen make the room dark, or ask them if they’d like to try a sleep mask. Some teens might also benefit from headphones with relaxing music, audiobooks, or white noise. Keep the bedroom cool at night to promote sleep.
- Promote positive sleep talk. Reframe negative conversations about sleep and celebrate times you feel well-rested. Encourage teens to do the same.
- Check-in. Make a point of talking about sleep as a family. You might be surprised to learn that your teen is having trouble sleeping.
- Find a balance. Sleep is linked to other health behaviours, like healthy eating, physical activity, and mental health.Reflect on your daily lifestyle to help you sleep better. Try to limit caffeine later in the day, and get active outside. Teens notice these healthy habits and may follow your lead.
- Limit technology. Some people are spending more time than ever on devices like phones, tablets, and computers. Setting limits around these devices, or not allowing them in the bedroom, may improve sleep. If removing technology completely isn’t possible, or if your teen uses a device right before bed, they might benefit from dimming the screen brightness, using a blue light filter, or wearing blue light filtering eyeglasses.
Promoting sleep in the home helps you and your teen be successful in life. Remember, these changes take time! If your family has a set-back, try to reflect on why it may have happened, and don’t get discouraged! We’re all human.
Speak with a health professional if you or your teen is having persistent sleep challenges.
Learn more about the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth.