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Sleep Checklist for Teens

I've been thinking and reading more about teen sleep lately. I was listening to a podcast recently where the guest was Lisa Damour who is a clinical psychologist and author of "The Emotional Lives of Teenagers". She was discussing the mental health of teenagers and highlighted the importance of adequate sleep related to better mental health outcomes for teens. I haven't read this book but I think I'll add it to my list because I really loved her positive attitude related to teens while also being realistic. If you have big kids who are struggling a bit with sleep have a read through this checklist to see if there are some areas that might be able to be improved upon.

Sleep checklist for pre-teens and teens:

  • Screen curfew- no screens of any kind in the hour leading up to sleep. Instead, read a book, write in a journal or maybe listen to some chill music while getting their room ready for bed. And with that screen curfew, leave the phones and tablets out of the room... that dinging or vibrating can be just too tempting.

  • Limit caffeine- consider all sources of caffeine and try to avoid it past 2pm. Caffeine has a long half life meaning it stays in the system a long time. Not only can it affect your ability to fall asleep but it can also prevent a person from being able to stay asleep.

  • Darkness- black out blinds are very reasonably priced at Winners/Homesense or on Amazon, get a set for your teens room to provide a consistently dark sleeping environment.

  • Temperature and White Noise- nice and cool is ideal, we all sleep better when snuggled under the covers. A little white noise machine is helpful to drown out all those little house noises that aren't obvious until you are struggling to fall asleep.

  • Environment- is your child's room a mess? A tidy environment is helpful in providing the relaxing environment we want when sleeping. When skipping that screen time for the hour before bed it could be a good time to putter a bit to some relaxing music

  • Avoid big sleep-ins- I know they want to sleep in but this is so disruptive to circadian rhythm. If they have to be up at 730 for school then I don't recommend a sleep in past 9 on the weekends.

  • Bedtime routine- they may be too old or too cool for a bedtime routine but they actually aren't. We all benefit from having a steady bedtime routine, it is a great way to signal to the body and brain.

  • Nutrition and exercise- these can not be under estimated. A balanced diet and daily physical activity will always contribute to better sleep. I'm no expert in either of these fields but even a walk in this spring weather after supper is a good start. I'm linking a local Dietician that I have seen for me and for Harper when I was trying to ensure proper fuel related to her hefty swim schedule.

As always, if things are going well, there is really no need to make a change but our teens should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep every night. If you are noticing a lack of energy, trouble falling asleep or a change in mood (let's be real, this one is tough to pin point given the ever changing moods of teens but worth a consideration), it might be time to have a deeper look at all things bedtime.

I've included a few links below that I've been looking through. Reach out if you are needing a sleep consultant's support, though teens are not my specialty (yet) I'm happy to get you a referral.

Happy sleeping, your sleep coach,


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