Help Your Teen Sleep Right

Knowing what good sleep entails is important. Sleep deprivation can contribute to teen depression.

Help your teen develop good sleep habits with these recommendations:

  1. Help your teen make sleep a priority. Encourage him to focus on establishing healthy sleep patterns by keeping consistent sleeping and waking times.
  2. Keep bedroom distractions to a minimum. Remove any computers or television sets..
  3. Help her wind down with quiet time before bed. Reading or showering can help teens relax. Watching television or catching up with friends online can be too stimulating.
  4. Eat dinner early. Big meals close to bedtime require digestive processes that can keep your teen awake.
  5. Limit caffeinated drinks and sugar close to bedtime. Sugar causes a rise in blood sugar. When it gets low again in the middle of the night it may wake your child.
  6. Reduce noise in the bedroom. Try earplugs or create "white noise" with a fan or white noise machine.
  7. Put more downtime into the schedule. Many kids have too much on their plates and the pressure is overwhelming. "More than ever our kids need time to decompress," Branov says. "Think about how stressed you'd feel if every minute of your weekday was scheduled." Branov reminds parents not to measure success by how much is accomplished. "Poor lifestyle habits and lack of balance in life can predispose anyone to depression."
  8. Use medication as a last resort. Melatonin is generally safe at low doses as a temporary sleep aid to reset one's sleep clock or under times of severe stress, for example. Sleeping pills are not FDA approved for use in children but according to Branov are sometimes prescribed under certain circumstances. "It's easy to get physically and psychologically dependent on sleeping pills, which lose their effectiveness over time as sleeping problems often get worse."


Interview with Michael Branov, MD

National Sleep Foundation

Teens and Sleep

APA (American Psychological Association). "Article, Lack of Sleep May be Undermining Teen Health."