One of the major strategies for managing anxiety is to get excellent sleep. Sleep helps promote learning, focus, attention, and our ability to manage emotions, it improves depression and the quality of our relationships. Sleep really does it all. But getting good sleep isn’t always the reality we live in. Not for ourselves and not for our teens.

Y’all, I know that when we want to improve sleep for our teen or ourselves, one of the first things many parents do is go to Google and search something along the line of ‘how to sleep better’. Without a doubt, Google will offer you a ton of websites offering you all the ins and outs of sleep hygiene. And even though these sleep hygiene tips are great, well, they’re also incredibly boring and therefore very hard to implement with your teen.

So in today’s episode of Active & Connected Families, we’re diving into some sleep hacks for teenagers (and adults) that are actually easy, realistic and doable to implement and won’t leave you fighting with your teen.

Explain to your teen WHY

Probably the easiest thing to teach teens about this topic is that they won’t be able to remember the things they learn during the day if they won’t sleep properly. Your sleeping time is when your brain encodes what it has learned during the day. So whether they’re studying for a test or practicing a new skill at practice, your mind and body won’t remember it if you’re not getting enough sleep.

“It’s a time saver to sleep”
– Amanda Sovik-Johnston

This is not the only thing I explain to my kids. In today’s podcast episode, I discuss a few more. Have a listen if you’re interested!

Realistic sleep hack alternatives to no screens

We all know using screens isn’t beneficial for our sleep but telling your teen to stay off screens for two hours before bed is simply unrealistic. To get teenagers on board, it’s best to go for small pattern shifts. Start with the least invasive intervention, try it out for a week or two, and see if it helps your teen sleep better. If it doesn’t you can take it up a notch, and keep doing so until you’ve reached the level that works. This way, you’re not implementing any drastic and unnecessary interventions.

Here’s an example of what that could look like for screen usage:

Step 1: Move to the other side of the bed to make homework and scroll on your phone. This way one side of the bed is for screen time, and the other side of the bed is for sleeping.

Step 2: Don’t use your phone or make homework in your bed but do it on a chair in your room.

Step 3: Do homework outside of the bedroom completely.

Step 4: No screens 60 minutes before bedtime.

There are some sidenotes to these steps and I’m diving way deeper in today’s episode, so make sure to have a listen by clicking the links below or search for Active & Connected Families wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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In this episode on realistic sleep hacks for teens, we cover:

  • Why sleep is important;
  • Easy, realistic, and doable sleep hacks for teenagers;
  • What your teen needs to know about sleep;
  • Modeling sleep hygiene habits as a parent;
  • How to handle screen time in a way that gets your teen on board;
  • Implementing small pattern shifts to help your teen sleep better;
  • How sleep is all about habit and routine;
  • Weekend strategies for better sleep throughout the week;
  • Sleep debt; 
  • And much more!

More about Active & Connected Family Therapy

Active & Connected Family Therapy is a mental health practice serving individuals, families, and our community. Our practice is designed to help people at all stages and from all walks of life by offering therapists and physicians with diverse backgrounds and specialties via face-to-face, walk-and-talk, and telemedicine appointments. Throughout, we are committed to developing strengths-based, authentic, and long-lasting relationships with you and your children. We hope to provide you with the support and insight you need to help your family navigate life’s hard times and joys.

Are you or your child struggling with mental health? We have a team of psychologists and psychiatrists who can help you out. You can learn more about our practice or contact us here.

Resources and links mentioned in this episode

Disclaimer: Please remember we are real live therapists, however this is a podcast and is not considered a therapy session. Not only because there is no co-pay but also because we can’t speak to your individual experiences. We are here to help you keep raising healthy kids. And remember, if you are an imperfect parent, we are right there with you. If you or someone you love is in immediate danger, please call your local crisis hotline or go to your nearest emergency room.