wikiHow to Sleep Longer (for Kids and Teens)

Three Parts:Setting Healthy and Realistic GoalsHaving a Good Bedtime RoutineChanging Your Lifestyle

It is a major problem when kids and teens like you get too little sleep day after day. You do not perform well in school when you are overtired. The lack of sleep puts you at risk for being overweight, depressed, and hurt in an accident. You can avoid the extra stress by changing some behaviors that prevent you from getting a good night’s rest every night.[1]

Part 1
Setting Healthy and Realistic Goals

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    Get enough sleep every day. Kids and teens like you need from 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. It takes planning to make sure that doing your homework and extracurricular activities do not prevent you from getting enough rest. Your one “job” is to learn in school and you cannot do this well if you are tired all the time.[2]
    • During this time in your life, you are undergoing a period of fast intellectual, emotional, and physical growth. This requires a lot of energy. You need more sleep than your younger sibling or your mother to help you recharge overnight. The rest allows you to wake up refreshed and ready to meet a new day.[3]
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    Go to bed and wake up at the same time every school day. This allows your body to find its natural 24-hour rhythm for going to sleep and waking up. This helps you to fall asleep faster and wake up in the morning feeling rested.[4][5]
    • Your body follows a circadian rhythm that is based upon a 24-hour time period. This rhythm is based upon the amount of light and darkness around you during the day. It determines when you go to sleep, wake up, or feel a little drowsy during the day. When go to sleep and wake up at the same time, you find your natural sleep-waking pattern which makes sleep more restful.[6]
    • When you reach puberty (from age 11 to 14) until around the age of 22 your rhythm shifts a little. You will naturally want to go to sleep around 10 or 11 pm and wake up later in the morning. You will have to work against this tendency, just a bit, by remembering that is important to get at least 8 hours of sleep. Start your bedtime routine even if you are not that tired.[7][8][9]
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    Sleep in, just a little, on the weekend. The weekend is time for you to have some fun. So, stay up a little later but not too late. No matter what time you go to sleep, set your alarm clock. You do want to wake up more than one to two hours past your usual wake-up time.[10]
    • If you are like most kids and teens, you look forward to the weekend because you have more time to do the things you enjoy. Teens have a tendency to sleep irregularly on the weekend. Of course, you will want to sleep later because you stayed up watching TV, hanging out with your friends, or playing video games. But, it will be harder for you to wake up on Monday morning if you shift out of your natural rhythm too much.[11][12]

Part 2
Having a Good Bedtime Routine

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    Finish your homework early and in stages. Thinking about your homework is stimulating so you want to complete it a few hours before you have to go to bed. Then, you can begin to relax and wind down for the day.[13]
    • First, do any homework that requires you to be on the computer. Save the homework or school projects that allow you to be offline for later in the evening.[14]
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    Turn off all the “technology” at least an hour before bedtime. This means you will have to turn off your cellphone, the TV, the computer, and your video games. The light from the screens can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.[15]
    • The “blue light” coming from the screens of your gadgets shines into your eyes every time you use them. This light causes your brain to make less melatonin, a hormone that signals your body to fall asleep. The light also can delay the small but necessary drop in your body temperature. You may not be able to go to sleep for two hours after using your cellphone or computer.[16][17]
    • Turning off everything also helps you to avoid using social media around bedtime. You do not need to respond to someone who is posting unpleasant things about you or become too interested when someone tweets a juicy rumor about your favorite movie star.[18]
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    Make your bedroom a good place to sleep. You sleep better if your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark. Your bed should be for sleep only. It should not be the place where you become frustrated when you can’t figure out how to solve a math problem or how to get to the next level on a video game.[19]
    • Expert agree that it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep if you associate the bed with only sleeping. [20] It is better not to do your homework or watch TV while in bed. Your bedroom should be a place where you are quiet and relaxed. If you live in a place where space is limited, you may forced to do other things in your bedroom.[21]
    • Remember that your sleep-wake cycle is light sensitive. You can use an eye mask if your family likes to keep a hallway light on at night. You can put up dark curtains to block out the early morning sunlight.[22]
    • Your sleep-wake cycle is temperature sensitive, as well. Controlling the environment in your room to keep it cool may take some work since you live with other people. You may need to use a fan in your room if everyone else is comfortable but you are hot.[23][24]
    • Earplugs are an option if your home or apartment is small enough for you to hear your parents talking to each other or watching TV.
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    Stop habits that could interfere with your sleep. For a few hours before bed, avoid caffeine, nicotine, and exercising. These stimulating activities will prevent you from easily drifting off to sleep. Do not drink alcohol around bedtime because it leads to poor-quality sleep.[25]
    • Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. Beverages and foods like colas, energy drinks, tea, coffee, and chocolate are not good nighttime snacks. Smoking cigarettes is bad for your sleep and your developing lungs.[26]
    • You increase your metabolism when you exercise. This will make you more alert and give you more energy. Do not exercise in the evening when it is time to go to sleep. Get some exercise during the day when you have so many things you want to get done.[27][28]
    • Alcohol relaxes you, makes you go to sleep faster, and makes you sleep deeper. But, many studies have shown that it decreases how much rapid eye movement (REM) sleep you have. Scientist think you need this type of sleep to wake up feeling rested and refreshed.[29]
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    Write in a diary or journal. Deal with your worry and stress before you get into bed. Write it all down on the paper and leave everything there overnight.[30]
    • As a young person, you deal with a lot. It can seem like parents and teachers nag you, homework can be hard, and your friends are not always nice. You have to find a way to let it all go and get some sleep.
    • You also can write down everything you need to do the next day so that you will not worry about forgetting anything.[31]
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    Have a regular and relaxing bedtime routine. You signal your body it is time to sleep when you do the same thing every night before bed. The activity must be quiet like reading or listening to music.[32]
    • Your bedtime routine can include any activity which calms you. You can talk to your mom about something that interests you or do a little daydreaming. But, you should not be listening to loud music, watching a horror movie on TV, or trying to convince your mom to buy you those expensive pair of jeans.[33]

Part 3
Changing Your Lifestyle

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    Make getting enough sleep your first priority. Sleepiness is defined as feeling like you want to or need to go sleep at inappropriate places and times.[34] When you are sleep-deprived like this, you may have significant issues with your health, school performance, and social life.[35][36]
    • In August of 2014, our nation’s pediatricians declared the lack of sleep in adolescents an important health issue. Studies have shown that only about 8% of young people your age are getting enough sleep. Most are getting less than 6 hours of sleep and are severely sleep deprived.[37]
    • When you do not get enough sleep, you cannot concentrate, follow directions, remember things, or perform tasks that are usually easy for you. You may argue with your family and friends, feel depressed, or overeat because you are feeling so stressed. You may not grow properly or become sick often because you immune system cannot fight off infections well. Experts say you could develop weight issues, heart disease, and diabetes even though you are just a teen. Being young is challenging enough without all these extra burdens.[38][39][40]
    • If you are like the 40% of teens who feel like they are too sleepy most of the time, your safety is at risk. Overtired teens like you are more likely to be involved in car crashes and other accidents because your chronic tiredness slows down your reaction times.[41][42]
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    Make your mornings easier. You will be able to sleep longer if you prepare for your next school day before you go to sleep. You can bathe or shower in the evening to save time. The evening also is a convenient time for you to plan what you will wear, eat for breakfast, and take for lunch.[43]
    • Even if you wear a uniform, you can lay out what you are going to wear including socks, shoes, and any hair accessories.
    • Do not skip breakfast because it is an important meal. Make a breakfast sandwich with eggs and a meat on bread and eat it while you are on the school bus or walking to school.[44] Ask your father if you need help with cooking the food.
    • The evening bath and shower can serve two functions. It relaxes you and saves you time in the morning.
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    Take a short nap on particularly busy days. It is okay to take a short break if you come home from school feeling sleepy. Your nap should not be longer than 20 to 30 minutes. Take the nap between 3 and 5 pm.[45]
    • Sleeping for longer than 30 minutes could cause you go into a deeper sleep and make you wake up feeling groggy. Do not nap after dinner. This could make it harder for you to fall asleep at bedtime.[46]
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    Cut back on your extra-curricular activities. Kids and teens like you explore what you want out of life by participating in these activities. But, your first “job” is to grow strong and to learn all you can in school. Choose your activities wisely every day so that you also do well in school and go to bed early enough.[47][48]
    • It will not be easy to decide what activities you will stop. There are things you have to do like homework and chores. You may be working after school to help your family or to be able to afford your first car. And, you have picked out extra-curricular activities, like volunteering, sports, and playing a musical instrument, to make a good impression on your college application. You should not deny yourself fun things like talking on the phone or hanging out with friends a little bit after school. But, your priority must be staying healthy and happy by getting enough sleep.[49]
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    Learn how to manage your time better. You must be as productive as possible throughout the day. Work on your homework during the short periods of free time between your different activities. Take scheduled breaks while you are doing your homework or a project.[50]
    • A period of 10 to 15 minutes may not seem that long. But, you may be able finish a short homework assignment if you get several of these free moments. This means there is less for you to do when you get home.
    • You will concentrate better and finish a task sooner if you take several breaks to clear your head and focus on something you enjoy.
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    Stick to your plan of getting more sleep. It will not be easy in the beginning but remember you can be happier and healthier if you are not sleep-deprived. Your family could be a good source of support if they join you.[51][52]
    • Ask your mother if you can dim all the lights in your house or apartment around bedtime. This decrease in light will become an important part of your bedtime routine and signal your body that it is time to sleep.[53]
    • You could set a nice example for a younger sibling if she sees you sleep well because you manage your time well. She will see the value of finishing homework on time and not doing all-nighters. She will see you enjoy school and your extra-curricular activities because you are well-rested.
    • Turning off the technology would be good for your entire family. The lack of distractions will help everyone to begin to wind down around bedtime. It may not be the coolest thing. But, this would be a good time to talk to your parents and let them know what is going on with you. You might actually find this pleasant and relaxing.
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    Talk to a doctor if things do not change. You have tried everything and you still are having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. It is time to ask for help. You may be like some kids and teens who have medical problems that prevent them from falling asleep.[54][55]
    • If you are very worried and stress about things going on in your life it could be causing insomnia which prevents you from falling asleep and staying asleep. Your tiredness in school could actually be narcolepsy. You cannot control when you fall asleep and it may happen in class or when you are driving. You may be unable to fall asleep because of restless leg syndrome which causes your legs to jerk uncontrollably at night while in bed. Your doctor can talk with you and figure out what needs to be done to help you feel better.[56]

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Categories: Better Sleeping | Health for Teens and Kids