While they don’t need as much rest per night as babies or preadolescents, regular sleep plays an important role in the mental and physical development of teenagers. In addition to being apathetic about school, sleep deprived teens also tend to be socially isolated and have a high risk factor for contracting obesity. They also tend to be easily distracted, a condition that is deeply problematic for teens that drive. Here are three strategies parents can use to make sure their adolescent children get the sleep they need.
Optimize the Bedroom for Sleep
One way to make sure your teen is getting the rest they need is to make sure their bedrooms are optimized for sleep. To ensure that the rising sun doesn’t disrupt their sleep, put up blackout curtains. Along similar lines, buy your child earplugs if they’re frequently disturbed by noise at night. As a number of studies have found that cooler temperatures make it easier for our bodies to relax enough to sleep, keep your child’s bedroom at around 68 degrees. Explain to your child that they should refrain from doing things like watching TV or reading in bed as those activities make it harder for them to get to sleep. It is also worth noting that the “blue light” that emanates from a smartphone screen has been found to be incredibly disruptive to teenage sleep cycles, so instituting a smartphone curfew is probably a good idea.
Adopting a Restful Diet
In some cases, a teenager’s ability to get the proper amount of sleep can be impacted by their dietary choices. For instance, sodas like Classic Coke and energy drinks like Red Bull are popular among teenagers because of their sweet taste. However, those drinks are also packed with caffeine, which has the effect of revving up the nervous system. And since caffeine takes about six hours to metabolize, drinking a 12 ounce can of soda near bedtime can sabotage a teenager’s attempt to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. Also, eating a meal that is rich in protein before bed is a bad idea because it takes a while for the digestive system to break it down. A carb-heavy snack, like a bowl of graham crackers and milk, before bed is ideal because it leaves you feeling satisfied and sleepy.
All Natural Sleep Aids
Another way to help your teen get the proper amount of sleep is through the use of some all-natural sleep aids. Playing some calming music around bedtime, such as smooth jazz, makes it easy to relax and drift off to sleep. Using a white noise machine can produce similar effects. Many people who struggle to get to sleep at a consistent time find the aroma of lavender, orange blossom and marjoram to be very effective at inducing sleepiness. Also, chamomile and Valerian herbal teas have been used as all-natural sleep aids for centuries.
If your son or daughter is having frequent problems falling and staying asleep, contact us today to set up an appointment. With his skills and experience, Dr. Shake can diagnose and treat your child’s condition.