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Better Teen Sleep! One Habit To Focus On And 5 Tips To Increase Success!


ONE HABIT that you can do to help your teen get more sleep.


As a parent it is hard to know what to focus on to start the positive change in your teen’s sleep. Starting too many changes can lead to nothing working.


Start with a set bedtime!


Focusing on a set bedtime and then creating a sleep opportunity of 9 to 10 hours is the most important habit to focus on. Everything else, every other change, should support this one habit.

This bedtime will likely be later than you, the parent, due to the shift in circadian rhythm of teens.


Create a set bedtime! All other behaviors and habits should help protect this one habit.


Circadian Rhythm Of Teens


Have you ever fallen asleep only to be awoken by a noise in the kitchen? You check your phone and its midnight. Your teen is making a sandwich! Sound familiar?


In childhood, our circadian rhythm kickstarts an early release of melatonin creating an ‘early to bed, early to rise’ sleep cycle. As we move into adolescence our circadian rhythm shifts to a ‘night owl’, delaying the release of melatonin much later than that of our parents. The bedtime of a teen will be later than most of their parents, and that is ok. It's part of teenage biology!


Setting a reasonable bedtime is something you should include with your teenager. Bring them into the conversation and come up with a time that everyone agrees with. Your bedtime will need to include 9 to 10 hours of sleep. The wake-up time of your teen will help dictate what then is a reasonable bedtime.


Include your teen in the conversation of creating a set bedtime.


Once you have an agreed upon set bedtime this is an agreement that should be protected throughout the week as well as the weekend.


Next, read on for some tips from parents and medicine to help you and your teen succeed!


Remember to give you and your teen a lot of grace during this process. This change will not happen overnight!






Supporting habits of the ONE HABIT


Screen Time


The number one killer of sleep for teens from parents surveyed was the amount of screen time just before bed. The blue LED light of our screens stimulates our brains more than an incandescent light bulb reflecting off of a book, making it harder to fall asleep. Add to this a stimulating tv show with a great cliffhanger and automatic play of the next episode, or the potential drama of social media, and it becomes more difficult to shut down our brains.


  • Try blue light filtering glasses in the evening.
  • Reduced screen time, especially before bed.


Supplements and Caffeine


Caffeine suppresses the Adenosine receptors and reduces our sleep drive temporarily making it harder to fall asleep.


As our brain works it burns a lot of 'fuel'. The result of our daily brainwork is the byproduct Adenosine. During the day our Adenosine levels increase creating a sleep pressure. We get tired. During sleep our brain 'washes out' the excess Adenosine resetting us for the next day.


Caffeine stays in our system a long time. We should not have caffeine late in the day or in the evening. That said there is some variability in how our bodies filter caffeine from our system from person to person.


  • Stop caffeine use by early afternoon.
  • Melatonin and Lavender have been shown to assist in kicking off the initial sleep cycle.


A question we should ask ourselves is this; should our teenagers be on caffeine?




Did you know that one way to kick off our night's sleep is through a drop in our core body temperature? This is a normal part of our sleep cycle. A drop in our core temperature helps signal a release in melatonin, preparing us for sleep.

Having a bath or hot shower will actually assist in dropping our core temperature when we get out. Our skin is pink and this is due to the increase in blood flow. When step out of the shower or bath the air against our wet skin conducts heat from our body.


Another factor on core temperature is our room temperature and amount of bedding. If we are too warm we have more difficulty falling asleep.


  • Have a hot shower or bath before bed!
  • Reduce your room temperature at night!



Sleep Preparation


Our son is a drummer. One of the last things that he did every night was to drum, before 9 pm! We set this end time for drumming for our neighbors benefit (and ours)! This was our sons 'mental health' time and a reward for getting everything else finished. Your teen will be different. Use something that they enjoy as a 'wind down' for preparing for bed.


  • Journal before bed or read a book.
  • Video game time with blue light blocking glasses.
  • Make sure the activity is not too mentally stimulating.


Wake-up Routine


Find ways to reduce the amount of time your teen needs from wake up to the school bus or the car.

Prep the night before!

Showering and setting out their clothes, picked beforehand, to reduce their morning routine and increase their sleep opportunity.


What is the latest your teen can sleep in and still make it to school?


Start with you!


Consider making some positive sleep changes in your life as a good example for your kid(s). Our kids are watching us and learning from us whether we like it or not. Showing the way through example can help the whole family. If we are unable or unwilling to change should we expect more from our children? Just a thought from a fellow parent.






It can be tempting to institute all the changes at once but this can be a recipe for failure. Once you have agreed on a set bedtime and increasing your teenagers nightly sleep to 9 to 10 hours your first area to focus on will vary with each teen. You may want to start with something as easy as a better wake-up routine and evening prep to make the mornings less stressful. This is an easier area to tackle versus screen time.


Other considerations:


  • Snoring is a sign of sleep apnea.
  • You have made sleep changes and your teen is still struggling with 'insomnia'? Behavioral Counseling for insomnia is an effective treatment.
  • DON’T tape your mouth shut. Mouth breathing can be a sign of a nasal restriction for breathing. Check with your pediatrician first before putting tape over your teens mouth at night.
  • Petition our schools for a later start time for high schoolers! Later start times are associated with better grades, behavior and emotional health of teens, as well as reduced morning accidents of teenage drivers, to name a few.


We are continuing to develop more resources related to teen sleep and anxiety/mental health through our partnerships. Please check back for more resources as they become available.


Better Teen Sleep! One Habit To Focus On And 5 Tips To Increase Success!