5 Simple Tips to Improve Teen Sleeping Habits

Common Sense Advice for Better Sleep

Teens are often subject to the same pressures as adults that can greatly disrupt their sleep, so it can be important to follow simple tips to improve teen sleeping. Discover some recommendations to improve teens' sleep and resolve insomnia through common sense advice about habits.

1

Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule.

Keep a regular schedule to improve teens' sleep

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It is tempting to stay up late or sleep in, but just as in adults, it is important to keep a regular sleep schedule. By getting up and going to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends, we condition our body to know when to sleep. Start by fixing your wake time in place and get 15 to 30 minutes of morning sunlight (or light box use) upon awakening. It may be important to use an alarm clock so that you do not oversleep. Go to bed when you feel sleepy, even if it means staying up a little later, to avoid insomnia.

2

The Bedroom Should Be a Place for Sleeping.

Remove electronics including computers, televisions, and phones to improve teens' sleep
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Our lives are filled with stimulating electronics, but these should be removed from the bedroom. Televisions, gaming systems, computers, telephones, portable music players, and other gadgets should not be used in the bedroom. The noise and screen light can stimulate our brains and keep us awake. The bedroom should be kept quiet, dark, cool, and comfortable so as to encourage sleep. It is best if you use the space only for sleep. Consider leaving your phone to charge in the kitchen or living room overnight.

3

Take Some Time Each Night to Wind Down.

Close up portrait of young man listening to music
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Spending a little time relaxing before bed can improve sleep. Develop quiet sleep rituals to do in the 15 to 60 minutes before going to bed. These might include reading, listening to relaxing music, watching a favorite movie, or taking a nice bath. Put homework aside. Minimize time on social media. Avoid screen light (especially blue light) as it may make it hard to feel sleepy due to a shift in the circadian rhythm. Spend this time before bed unwinding and this will help mentally prepare you for sleep. This can make it easier to fall asleep at the start of the night.

4

Take Care About Exercise, Meals, and Use of Sleep-Disrupting Substances.

Avoid caffeine, exercise, and alcohol too close to bedtime to improve teens' sleep
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Exercise may be a great way to stay in shape and be healthy, but it should be avoided in the 4 hours just before bed. Otherwise, it may make you too alert to drift off to sleep. Likewise, late-night eating can disrupt sleep and may cause nighttime heartburn. Therefore, dinner or snacks should occur roughly at the same time each day and preferably hours before going to sleep.

Furthermore, teens should stay away from caffeine in the evening. This means not consuming drinks such as soda pop, tea, coffee, and energy drinks, and foods that contain chocolate. Caffeine works as a stimulant and will keep you awake. Nicotine and alcohol can fragment sleep as well and because of other bad health effects should be avoided entirely in teens.​

5

Make Sleep a Priority and If There Are Problems, Get Help.

Make sleep a priority and get help from a sleep doctor if needed to improve teens' sleep
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Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to recognize how important sleep is to your health. It is easy to cut back on sleep to do things that we enjoy, but this can have significant negative consequences. For example, sleep loss is associated with gaining weight. There are also certain sleep disorders that may first appear in the teenage years, such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and circadian rhythm disorders. Most teenagers should be getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep to meet the minimum sleep needs. Schools can sometimes help to prioritize sleep by allowing a later start time, and some school districts are making these changes.

A Word From Verywell

If you are having trouble sleeping at night, or are feeling too tired during the day, it is important to get help from a medical professional such as your doctor. Solutions might help you to sleep better at night and feel better during the day.

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Article Sources
  • Chesson, AJ et al. "Practice parameters for the use of light therapy in the treatment of sleep disorders." Standards of Practice Committee, American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Sleep. 1999;22:641.

  • Kryger, MH et al. "Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine." ExpertConsult, 6th edition, 2017.