Teenagers need 9-10 hours sleep every night. Most get only 7-8 hours.*

No night time stories here; just great tips on how to make sure kids get the sleep they need.

Children and young people who do not get enough sleep may suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. This can affect their lives in many ways both academically and socially.

Academically they may find it hard to concentrate, mentally ‘drift off’ in class, and have shorter attention spans and poor decision making skills. Their enthusiasm for life in general and their willingness to engage in physical activity may also be reduced.

On a social and emotional level they may become moody, aggressive or depressed. This may lead to engaging in risk taking behaviour or other self destructive activities.

Tips on how to get enough sleep
For younger children it is important to have a regular bedtime routine, for example playtime/activities  after school, evening meal, bath time, story time and then into bed and sleep.

For teenagers, the golden rule is: do not argue with your teenager about bedtime. Try to talk it through with them and come up with strategies that will help them get enough sleep.

Here are some tips:

  • Allow your child to sleep in on the weekends.
  • Encourage an early night on Sundays, so they are refreshed and ready to start their week.
  • Decide together on appropriate time limits for any stimulating activity such as homework, television or computer games. Allow for enough ‘wind down’ time after activities.
  • Avoid early morning appointments, classes or training sessions for your child if possible.
  • Encourage your child to finish their homework when they come home from school rather than leaving it until after the evening meal.
  • Make sure their weekly schedule is not too hectic. Limit after school activities to a couple a week so they have days when they come home and relax after school.
  • Make sure your child has a calm peaceful place to sleep. Factors that influence your child’s quality of sleep include a noisy bedroom, a light filled room, a lumpy mattress or the habit of lying awake and worrying.
  • Make sure they don’t start their bedtime routine too late (no matter how old they are!).
  • Consider teaching them a relaxation technique to help them wind down in readiness for sleep.
  • As children enter their teenage years they have a tendency to want to go to bed later and sleep late the next day.  Help them to slowly adjust their body clocks to find a balance.

How do children become sleep deprived?
Here are some of the reasons why young people do not get enough sleep:

  • Caffeine: eating and drinking food (tea, coffee, cola drinks and chocolate) with caffeine in it in the evenings can hype a young person up so they find it hard to wind down and sleep at night.
  • Hormonal time shift: puberty hormones shift the teenager’s body clock forward a couple of hours, making them sleepier one to two hours later.
  • The world of technology:  the lure of stimulating entertainment such as television, texting, the Internet and computer gaming can keep any young person up for hours.
  • Too tired to sleep:  all children/teenager’s become overactive if they are over tired. An over-aroused brain is less able to fall asleep.

* The State government of Victoria established the Better Health Channel to provide information to help individuals and their communities improve their health and wellbeing.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: The Better Health Channel