4 Ideas for Better Sleep

Did you know that most teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night? Many teens have trouble sleeping which can affect your emotions, studies, sports performance and health in general.

How can you get the sleep you need? Here are some ideas:

Be active during the day. Remember when you were a little kid? You ran around all day and had no trouble sleeping – you wore yourself out. Take a tip from a toddler and get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. Physical activity can decrease stress and help you feel more relaxed. But don't work out too close to bedtime because exercise can stimulate you and make it harder to get to sleep if you work out too late in the evening.                          

Wind down at least an hour before bed Try to make your bedroom a quiet and dark place – maybe try a sleep mask and earplugs. Shut down phones and computers at least one hour before bed or at least put them in blue light blocking mode. You can take a hot bath or shower before bed but try to keep your room cool (about 68 F) for better sleep.

Avoid caffeine, excess sugar and heavy meals before bed. Lots of people think that a heavy meal will make them relaxed and drowsy, but that's not true. Digesting a big meal can disrupt sleep, increasing your chance of waking up in the middle of the night. Avoid drinks with caffeine (such as sodas, energy drinks, coffee and tea), especially in the afternoon and evenings. Eat regularly and don’t go to bed hungry. A light snack before bed is a good idea – just don’t make it one with too much sugar. Warm milk, a small turkey sandwich, cereal or even a banana are good choices.

Start studying and homework earlier and find ways to relax. You may be feeling stressed with tests coming up and papers that are due. It is really important to share your concerns with somebody or even write down your feelings. Try to find ways of relaxing in the evening. Going to bed at the same time every night helps your body expect to sleep. Creating a set bedtime routine can enhance this relaxation effect. Unwind every night by reading, listening to music, spending time with a pet, writing in a journal, playing Sudoku, or doing anything else that relaxes you.

Everyone has a sleepless night every now and then, but if you often have trouble sleeping and you think it's affecting your happiness or ability to do your school work, talk to your parents and your doctor.