Most teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. But many teens have trouble
sleeping. Lack of sleep can affect everything from our emotions to how well we focus
on tasks like driving. It can affect sports performance, increase our chances of getting
sick, and may be linked to weight gain in some people.
How can we get the sleep we need? Here are some ideas:
Be active during the day. You've probably noticed how much running
around little kids do — and how soundly they sleep. Take a tip from a toddler
and get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. Physical activity can decrease stress
and help people feel more relaxed. Just don't work out too close to bedtime because
exercise can wake you up before it slows you down.
Avoid alcohol and drugs. Lots of people think that alcohol or
drugs will make them relaxed and drowsy, but that's not the case. Drugs and alcohol
disrupt sleep, increasing a person's chance of waking up in the middle of the night.
Say goodnight to electronics. Experts recommend using the bedroom
for sleep only. If you can't make your bedroom a tech-free zone, at least shut everything
down an hour or more before lights out. Nothing says, "Wake up, something's going
on!" like the buzz of a text or the ping of an IM.
Keep a sleep routine. Going to bed at the same time every night
helps the body expect sleep. Creating a set bedtime routine can enhance this relaxation
effect. So unwind every night by reading, listening to music, spending time with a
pet, writing in a journal, playing Sudoku, or doing anything else that relaxes you.
Expect a good night's sleep. Stress can trigger insomnia, so
the more you agonize about not sleeping, the greater the risk you'll lie awake staring
at the ceiling. Instead of worrying that you won't sleep, remind yourself that you
can. Say, "Tonight, I will sleep well" several times during the day. It can also help
to practice breathing exercises or gentle yoga poses before bed.
Everyone has a sleepless night once in a while. But if you regularly have trouble
sleeping and you think it's affecting your mood or performance, talk to your doctor.