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Why is Good Sleep Hygiene Important for Teens?

Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash

 

We know it’s important: something we do every day and most often look forward to, yet sleep is a common struggle for many people. Concerningly, young adults in their teenage years is the demographic recognised to struggle with sleep the most, despite its important role during this time. The need for teens to get adequate and quality sleep, however, it’s not just a concern for them, but also for young adults, parents, and school personnel who may have maintained poor sleeping habits from their teen years or are directly involved in this issue. In this post we’ll define what sleep hygiene is and its importance. Look at contributing factors to teens’ poor sleep hygiene, and provide practical ways to address them. 

 

What is Sleep Hygiene? 

Sleep hygiene is a term that refers to the activities and habits that influence the amount and quality of sleep people get per night and overall. This includes habits such as having a sleep routine and a dedicated space for sleeping only. 

 

Why is Sleep Hygiene Important (for teens)? 

Having good sleep hygiene is particularly important for teens because of the many changes the body goes through as it develops from child to adult. While scientist suggest teens need 8-10 hours of sleep per night, studies have found that in Australia most teens sleep 6.5-7.5 hours per night. This pattern is evident with other teen populations as results from a 2006 poll in America revealed that 45% of teens report less than 8 hours pf sleep per night. For teens, sleep has significant influences on their mental, social, physical, and emotional development which is why practicing good sleep hygiene is so important. In the short-term, most people are aware of how little sleep can contribute to poor mood and irritability. In the long-term however, lack of seep can increase risks to mental health, as well as physical health since the immune system prepares to defend the body during sleep. Without good sleep hygiene, teens are more susceptible to mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Sleep also impacts cognitive functions such as memory and attention, making it a crucial component for teens’ ability to perform well in school and extracurriculars.  

 

Reminders for Good Sleep Hygiene!

There are several small actions that can be taken to have greater impacts on sleep duration and quality. Stimulants such as coffee and nicotine are suggested to be avoided in the evening hours before bedtime. Stimulants such as nicotine are known to speed heart rate and increase thinking. Avoiding excessive light exposure, such as a bright screen, is also helpful to prepare the body for sleep. It might be better to watch some entertainment than play videos games or use social media since interactive forms of screen media can interfere with sleep more than passive. Meditation and other relaxing exercises are also suggested to clear the head and calm the mind before sleeping. 

Maintaining good sleep hygiene is important for everyone and especially teenagers. Lack of sleep and poor quality sleep are known to have disruptions to many aspects of adolescence development. Luckily there are many approachable tips to consider when trying to improve sleep hygienecheckout these tips: https://ouraring.com/blog/how-to-sleep-better/. 

Improving sleep hygiene can be an easier goal when you have resources and support to help you along the way. At me&my wellness, you can have personalised coaching from our Nutritionist & Lifestyle Medicine Specialist, Anthony Hartcher, and participate in programs such as our 6-week health reboot! 

 

Blog written by Mabelin Garcia

 

References

  1. Department of Health & Human Services. (2018, May 2). Teenagers and sleep. Better Health Channel. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/teenagers-and-sleep 
  2. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, March 18). Sleep and mental health. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health 
  3. Randell A, Cooke S, Bendall S, Gradisar M, Richardson C, Bilal M, Bolton B, Duong H, Mamsa  S, Wills M. Sleep and young people: putting the myths to rest [Internet]. Orygen, The  National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health (AU); 2019. Available from:  headspace.org.au 
  4. Suni, E. (2020, August 5). Sleep for Teenagers. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/teens-and-sleep