Sleep - the essential life skill!

Written by Lori Reichel, Ph.D.

  |  Reviewed by Hina J. Talib, MD

Sleep is a time for your body and brain to grow and restore. In your early teens, it is recommended that you get at least 9-10 hours of sleep, with older teens getting at least 8-10 hours. If your school days begin at 7:30, you may aim to go to bed at about 9:30 so you have time to get ready and travel to school in the morning. You may experience changes in your sleep patterns due to growing hormones, or emotional changes. Know that this is common!

If you find you are sleeping more than before, it might be because you are growing or maybe you are stressed. Try to stick to a regular routine though and go to bed a little earlier. A shower and a healthy breakfast and drinking plenty of water in the morning can help you wake up.  If you are sleeping more than 12 hours/day for more than two weeks or if you are not feeling well physically or emotionally, you may want to talk to a trusted adult or your doctor.

If you are having trouble sleeping or consistently averaging less than 8-9 hours/night, you may find that you are run down, irritable, and even have increased muscle and joint pains. Sleep disturbances can impact your mood, learning, and social engagement but there are lots of things you can do to get back on a healthy sleep schedule.

Having trouble falling or staying asleep?
  • Try to establish a routine of going to bed at about the same time, taking a shower or bath, and doing an activity like meditation, reading a book, journaling about your worries, coloring, snuggling a pet, talking to a family member or friend, that calms you.
  • Some people like using a weighted lap pad or blanket before bed, as deep pressure input can be calming.
  • Keep your weekday and weekend sleep schedule within an hour of each other, if possible.
  • Reduce lights and stop looking at screens at least 90 minutes before bedtime.  The stimulation of screens can be a big sleep disruptor. If you must look at a screen you can use blue-light-blocking glasses.
  • When the lights are out, listen to calming music or try a sleep app or white noise like a fan.
  • If you can, reduce the temperature in your room a little to help you fall asleep.  If the room is warm, you can put an ice pack in a pillowcase and put it in bed to help make your bed cooler.
  • Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes so that you are tired enough for restorative nighttime sleep.
  • Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, and even chocolate.  Some people enjoy caffeine to help stay awake, but this can also cause problems with sleep.  Caffeine not only keeps us up and makes sleep lighter, it can also cause people to be fidgety when trying to sleep, worsening conditions such as restless leg syndrome, a condition where the limbs feel the need to move around in the evening, which can prevent falling asleep or causing waking up during the night.  Caffeine tends to stay in our bodies for a lot longer than realized, with it taking about 5-7 hours for half of the caffeine we drink to get out of our system.  Generally, this means that for good sleep caffeine should be stopped by the early afternoon at the latest.
  • If you continue to struggle with falling or staying asleep, talk to a trusted adult or your medical provider.

To learn more about the importance of sleep and tools to develop healthy sleeping habits, check out the sleep section of BLOOM’s Healthy Body page.