Sleep is important. At least that’s what everyone keeps trying to tell us. But, as teens, our relationship with sleep can be complicated, to say the least. Convincing ourselves to go to bed at night can be a battle, but it can also feel impossible to get ourselves out of bed in the morning. What’s the deal? If you’re sick of fighting yourself to get to sleep, check out these sleep tips that every teen should know.
Working With Your Body’s Clock
Turns out there is some science behind our tendency to stay up and sleep in late. The human body operates by a 24-hour internal clock called your “circadian rhythm.” The circadian rhythm causes your body to secrete sleep-inducing melatonin at certain times of the night. Here’s the thing: When you reach your teens, your circadian rhythm shifts. Rather than naturally waking up early and falling asleep early the way you did when you were a kid, your body starts and stops releasing melatonin much later.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a teacher alive that will accept, “my body hasn’t stopped releasing melatonin yet,” as an excuse for falling asleep in class. So, you’ll have to find ways to work with your body’s clock. The best way to do that is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Eventually, you’ll trick your body into being sleepy and alert at the right times.
The Truth About “Catching Up on Sleep”
Notice that I said go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. That includes weekends. I know, Saturday morning sleeping in time is sacred, but hear me out. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not possible to “catch up” on sleep. Sleeping more to compensate for a night of sleeping in less doesn’t actually improve your alertness or reaction times. If anything, it just throws off that sleep cycle more, leaving your more dazed when it’s time to return to it.
Prep Your Space for Sleep
How well you sleep has a lot to do with your environment, and there are little things you may be doing right now to make your room harder to sleep in. Are you reading this in bed with a bag of chips? Spoiler: You’re making it harder to sleep. The more we work, game, or do things in bed that we associate with wakefulness, the less we’ll associate our beds with restfulness. Not only that but when we eat in bed, we are contributing to some crusty, uncomfortable sheets. Save your food for the table and give your sheets a wash for an easier night’s sleep.
What If I Can’t Sleep?
Don’t. Reach. For. Your. Phone. Nothing wakes you up more than shining a light directly into your eye. Here are some ways to fall asleep every teen should know that will keep the screens at bay.
- Read a dull book
- Deep breathing
- Color or draw
- Tell your brain not to fall asleep (It’s weird, but it works)