November 8, 2017
Sleep plays a key role in brain development, as well as in the acquisition and storage of information.
Staying out late with the gang, watching TV all night or studying till sunrise are all bad habits that lead to sleep deprivation for a teenager. Unfortunately, there a several adverse side effects:
- Distractibility and lower concentration
- Memory retention problems
- Irritability and bad-temperedness
- Lower immune system
Chronic lack of sleep thus affects cognitive functions and, consequently, school performance. Remember how sleep deprivated you felt that last time your youngest had the flu and spent several nights coughing? Were you efficient at work? No. The same applies to your teen.
How Much Sleep Does My Teen Need?
Although needs vary from one teen to another, the recommended amount of sleep for adolescents is at least 8.5 hours per night.
The following are signs that your teen needs more sleep:
- Difficulty waking up in the morning
- Poor concentrating during the day
- Falling asleep in class
- Mood swings and feelings of depression
Quick Tips for Better Sleep
- Avoid screen time in the evening
Your teenager should turn off the TV and computer at least one hour before going to bed for two reasons. First, because their content itself is too stimulating. Second, exposure to the light emitted by screens hinders the brain’s capacity to produce melatonin, thus delaying sleep. The hour before bed should be dedicated to a calming bedtime routine: taking a bath or a shower, reading, listening to some music, etc.
- Avoid stimulants after dinner
Energy drinks, tobacco, coffee, chocolate and cola all stimulate your brain. Having them after dinner will make falling asleep harder.
- Sleep in your bed
Your bed should be for one thing only: sleeping. It should not be a homework area or the place where you use your computer or watch TV.
- Exercise daily, but…
Avoid high-intensity exercise in the evening. This kind of training boosts your energy level because it triggers the release of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins.
- Keep to a regular sleeping schedule
Establish an ideal bed and wake-up time and try to keep to it. Your weekend bedtime should not be more than two hours passed your usual bedtime, and you should try to wake up no more than two to four hours later than your regular wake-up time.
Does your teen think all this is “too much”? Suggest a two-week trial period during which you can discuss any changes together. Your teen will quickly see the positive impact of these healthy sleeping habits.