Is your teen getting enough sleep? Between hours of homework, extracurricular activities, digital distractions, and evening TV shows, there are plenty of reasons why teens want to go to bed late. But with early school start times, many teens are just not getting enough sleep. Here we’ve rounded up what you need to know about helping your teen get the rest he needs.
How Much Sleep Does a Teenager Need?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need 8 1/2 - 9 1/4 hours of sleep every night. The reason it’s a range is because individuals do have different sleep needs. Is your son still sleepy after eight-and-a-half hours. Is he tired and grumpy in the afternoon? As Circle of Moms member Yvonne H. shares: “Your kids’ behavior will let you know if they are getting enough sleep.”
Establishing a Good Bedtime
Based on the guidelines above, here’s a simple table that will help you set a good bedtime based on what time your teen to needs to wake up for school in the morning.
Wake-Up Time Ideal Bed Time
“But I’m Not Tired…”
“But I’m not tired,” your teenager complains. As the National Sleep Foundation explains, a teenager’s body is programmed to want to stay up late and wake late: “[A teenager's] circadian rhythms are geared to stay up later in the evening and to wake later in the morning. As a result, a 10 o'clock bedtime may feel too early to her body, and a 6:30 am wake time certainly doesn't fit her current sleep/wake schedule.” Essentially, “biology says ‘stay up late’ and school says ‘start early.’”
Helping Your Teen Get to Bed Earlier
While the ideal situation for teens would be to go to bed at 11pm and wake at 7:30-8:15am, that’s not a possibility in many school districts. Here’s what teens can do to fall asleep more easily at an earlier bedtime.
- Avoid food and drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate) late in the day.
- Shower in the evening rather than the morning to allow for a later wake-up time.
- Don’t eat, drink, or exercise within a few hours of your bedtime.
- Try to avoid the TV and computer in the hour before bed.
- Create a nighttime routine (for instance, reading a book, then taking a shower) that will help signal to the body that it’s time for bed.
- Establish a routine bedtime and wake-time, and try to stay close to it on weekends.
- Let bright light into the bedroom in the morning to signal your body to wake up.