*Original publication, February 2019, updated January 2022.
Is your teenager getting enough sleep? How about your tween?
Are they being difficult? Are they struggling in school?
What about headaches?
Do they seem to be sleepy, lazy, or forgetful?
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, they could need more sleep.
If you already know or at least suspect they’re getting less sleep and it’s causing a problem, read on.
How much sleep should teens (and tweens) be getting?
Did you know tweens should still be getting 9-11 hours of sleep every night?
Insufficient sleep is usually a huge factor in our house for attitude problems.
With after-school activities eating further and further into our evenings.
Homework, social media, internet, video games, and tv.
Kids are freakin’ tired.
I know when I don’t get plenty of sleep, I’m cranky, foggy, and dizzy.
Feeling that way doesn’t help kids do well in school, perform in sports or get along with others.
Chronic sleep deprivation can worsen mental health disorders or in otherwise healthy teenagers may also contribute to depressive symptoms. This can add to excessive daytime sleepiness.
Many high school students turn to energy drinks. Despite teenagers thinking it’s no big deal. They have negative effects on the body unless used in moderation.
Sleep problems affect jobs, relationships, and driving.
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How can I help my tween or teenager sleep?
These sleep tips will help your tween create good sleep habits that can help them throughout their lifetime.
Have a tween (or teen) nighttime routine.
Incorporate snacks, reading time, and time to wash up.
If mornings are also a challenge, getting their school bags and outfits for the next day ready can be included too.
A set bedtime as part of their nightly routine is key.
If your tween needs to be up at 7 to be ready for school, then it’s lights out at 8:30 if you’re shooting for 10 hours.
This figures in time to fall asleep and a few trips and excuses out of the room cuz who says that ever stops. 😉
It gets so much harder when it’s still light out and your tween needs closer to 11 hours and you still do evening sports.
But it can work if you’re committed to finding what is contributing to the attitude.
Maybe most nights you continue with an early bedtime and on activity/sports nights it’s moved a bit later.
I know how it is.
They end up needing a shower.
They need a snack.
I know, I have three kids. It can be a pain in the ass.
We did baseball one fall and half the time we weren’t even getting home until after 8.
You either eat dinner at 3:30 or at 9.
An alternate system for those nights to get them in bed as quickly as possible also helps.
Try some different things and see what works for your family.
Can they do their nightly reading in the car on the way home?
Maybe that’s when they squeeze in a snack.
Maybe it’s a different morning routine to let them sleep a bit longer.
Only you know what you can make work.
I’m all for sports and other activities, but do you know how many parents I talk to who sound more like they’re the ones that want their kids to participate?
The kids don’t even want to be there.
Now that’s not everybody but what are your options?
Could you do something else at a different time?
Last spring my son played flag football.
Games were only on Sunday for 1 hour with a 1-hour practice right before the game.
Always in the same place.
No conflicts with homework or dinner. No traveling to different cities.
It was great.
Having a consistent sleep schedule even on weekends and vacations helps too.
It can seem like a good idea to let them sleep extra late on the weekends to help them catch up but it really makes things a whole lot worse because their bodies get even more confused.
When you finally do get home, or the evenings when you stay in, the screens are everywhere.
Whether you keep them out of their rooms altogether or remove them at bedtime is up to you, but at least have them off once the bedtime routine begins.
An hour or more before that is even better.
The light from screens interferes with the release of melatonin, the hormone that helps people get sleepy.
Puberty causes melatonin to be released later than usual. Up to two hours.
That’s part of the reason they don’t want to go to sleep, they really aren’t tired yet.
Melatonin also stays in their system into the morning, so that’s why it’s so hard to drag them out of bed.
What about melatonin and sleep medicine?
NOTE** Giving over-the-counter melatonin is not recommended for children or teens.
Reduce Electronic Device Use
In our family, I’m not good about being the “screen police” but we found more screen time = more fighting EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Everyone has their own opinion on when to shut off electronic devices.
That’s a personal family choice.
But when it interferes with sleep the answer is easy.
The amount and the content are up to you.
But if you at least make a time of night that it stops, preferably at least an hour before bed and that it stays off until morning, at least they will be getting a proper night’s sleep.
Try using an automatic wifi shut-off that links to their device.
Many wifi service providers have this in the parental settings.
Less screen time is optimal but the reality is it’s become part of society.
If they have to use computers for homework, make homework a priority as soon as they get home from school.
Even though they’ve been at school all day, leaving it until later when they’ve had a chance to wind down makes them less likely to be motivated to do it, at least in my house anyway.
After a quick snack, it’s time to dig in.
Compromise is key when dealing with tweens and teens.
With computers being necessary for school and work as well as phones keeping us connected with friends and family, electronic devices aren’t going anywhere so we need to do what we can to adapt.
If your teenager can’t seem to keep themselves off their devices at night or notifications wake them up consider having the rule to charge phones and laptops somewhere other than their room overnight.
Most internet providers have parental controls to turn off devices from within their sites. It won’t prevent phones that have data plans from working but gaming systems and computers will not be able to stay online.
What Can You Do To Help Your Teenager Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep?
Does your teenager have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep? There may be a reason with a simple solution.
Try a diffuser.
It has made a tremendous difference in our house since my daughter has always had trouble sleeping.
Our kids like a combination of lavender and rosemary.
In addition to making the room smell good, those scents make them sleepy and help with anxiety. It also has a light, for our daughter who hates the dark.
Is light coming in from the window?
Room darkening curtains help keep it out as well as keep the room cooler during hot summer days and warmer in the winter.
Are sounds from the other room or outside keeping them awake?
Maybe a white noise machine is an answer?
We have a free one on our android phone called Relaxio.
It has 16 different sounds like rain, the ocean, and even traffic.
Blankets like these, offer a comforting hug-like feeling while helping you fall asleep faster and sleep better. Weights differ depending upon body size. They should be no more than 10% of body weight.
Are they still waking up groggy?
Do they snore? Reclaim a good night’s sleep.
InnoGear Upgraded Version Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser Ultrasonic Diffusers Cool Mist Humidifier with 7 Colors LED Lights and Waterless Auto Shut-off for Home Office Bedroom RoomMarpac Dohm Classic (White) | The Original White Noise Machine | Soothing Natural Sound from a Real Fan | Noise Cancelling | Sleep Therapy, Office Privacy, Travel | For Adults & Baby | 101 Night TrialZonLi Adults Weighted Blanket 20 lbs(60”x80”, Grey, Queen Size), Cooling Weighted Blanket for Adults, 100% Cotton Material with Glass Beads
Is Your Teenager Getting Enough Sleep?
Want to track their sleep habits and see if that’s what’s contributing to crabby behavior?
Or find out what else might be causing it?
Try our new Bullet Journal Worksheets
Okay, your turn. What do you do in your house to help kids get better sleep?