Sleep is an essential function. It allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy and fight off diseases. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly. This can impair your abilities to concentrate, think clearly, and process memories.
Healthy sleep is especially important for adolescents due to the profound mental, physical, social, and emotional development occurring during this time. Adolescents need more sleep than adults, and should be aiming for 8 to 10 hours a night.
What can affect sleep?
There is a close connection between sleep and your mental health. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, this can make coping with daily life hard, and if you’re struggling with your mental health, you may find you can’t sleep.
Things that might impact your sleep can include:
- Anxiety, stress and/or worries
- Lack of routine or altered sleep – not having a set routine and set time for when you go to bed can cause sleep problems. Staying up late watching TV, gaming or scrolling through your phone and talking with friends can also alter your sleep patterns. The light from screens can keep you awake for longer and make it harder to fall asleep
- Where you sleep – the environment where you sleep is also important for getting a good night’s sleep. If you sleep somewhere uncomfortable or noisy, for example, this may disturb your sleep or keep you awake
- Medication – taking certain medications, or coming off medications, can lead to a lack of sleep
- Struggling with your mental health
What can Help?
There are lots of things you can try to help improve your sleep, but remember, different things work for different people. You could try:
- Establishing a routine:
- Having regular sleeping habits may help you if you are experiencing lack of sleep. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, or you might find it helps to only go to bed when you really feel tired
- Having a wind-down routine can also help. Try doing something calming before bed or as you go to sleep to help you to relax. This could include breathing exercises, grounding techniques, journaling such as writing down your worries, or listening to calming music or sounds
- Relaxing without your phone:
- Read a book, write a journal entry or listen to music
- Changing your screen settings:
- Using screens in the evening can negatively affect your sleep. Try to avoid using your phone or laptop before bed. You can also adjust your device settings to change the brightness, add a night filter or set it to do not disturb mode
- Making your sleeping area warm and comfortable:
- You may not have much control over where you sleep, but there are small changes you can make to improve your sleeping area. Think about the noise, the temperature, the light and the bedding
- Confronting sleepiness:
- If you are lying awake unable to sleep, do not force it. Get up and do something relaxing for a bit, and return to bed when you feel sleepier
- Tackling your worries:
- If your sleep is impacted by worrying, try writing them down or setting aside a specific time in your day to worry:
- Being careful with caffeine:
- Caffeine and energy drinks can stop you falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Try to avoid caffeine close to bedtime
- Being active can help you sleep better, but remember to avoid vigorous activity near bedtime if it affects your sleep
Supporting your child who can’t sleep
If your child is struggling to sleep, click on the link to find out how you can support them and places you can get help.