5 Simple Tips to Improve Teen Sleep Habits

How to Help Your Teen Beat Insomnia and Sleep Better

Teenagers may experience difficulty falling or staying asleep, or insomnia, for many reasons. Disrupted sleep can negatively impact your teen's mental and physical health. Prioritizing their sleep hygiene, or good sleep habits, may help improve their quality of sleep.

This article explains simple ways to help your teenager improve their sleep hygiene.


Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule

Teenager in bed reaching for alarm clock.

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It may feel tempting for your teen to stay up late or sleep in, but it is important for them to keep a regular sleep schedule. This can help them get into a consistent routine, which may improve their sleep.

Getting morning sunlight within an hour of waking up impacts your teen's internal clock, which can help them fall asleep earlier and maintain their sleep schedule.

This is especially important for adolescents because melatonin, or the hormone that helps the body know it's time to sleep, is released later at night in them compared to children and adults.


Limit Screen Time

Teenager in bed looking at phone.

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If possible, teens should not use television, gaming systems, computers, phones, and other gadgets in their bedrooms or while winding down for bed.

The noise and screen light can be overly stimulating and keep your teen up at night. This can reduce the amount of time they are able to sleep, as well as delay the release of melatonin.

Ideally, the bedroom should be kept quiet, dark, cool, and comfortable to encourage sleep.


Take Time Each Night to Wind Down

Teenager with earbuds in.

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Spending a little time relaxing before bed may help improve sleep. Encourage your teenager to develop quiet sleep rituals to do before going to bed. These might include reading, listening to relaxing music, or taking a warm bath or shower.

Homework and anything else distracting should be put away. This wind-down time should feel like a noticeable shift that helps your teen mentally prepare for sleep. This may make it easier for them to fall asleep at the start of the night.


Be Mindful of Sleep-Disrupting Behaviors

Teen drinking coffee.

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Exercise is a great way to stay healthy, but it should be avoided close to bedtime. Otherwise, it may make your teenager too alert to drift off to sleep.

Likewise, late-night eating can disrupt sleep and may cause heartburn, which can lead to discomfort in the chest and throat. Dinner or snacks should be eaten around the same time each day and preferably hours before going to sleep.

Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are all associated with insomnia and frequent wakings that interrupt sleep. Chocolate, soda, tea, coffee, and energy drinks may all contain caffeine, a stimulant that increases brain activity. Nicotine may be found in tobacco products, including smokeless ones.


Make Sleep a Priority

Teen waking up, stretching arms, and smiling in bed.

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One of the most important things you can do is recognize how important sleep is for your teen's health. Lack of sleep can impact their emotional well-being and their overall quality of life. They are also more likely to get into car accidents if they aren't sleeping well.

It's important to note that certain sleep disorders may appear during adolescence. Examples include sleep apnea, or when breathing is interrupted briefly during sleep, and narcolepsy, which describes extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden sleep attacks.

If your teen is having difficulty sleeping, reach out to their healthcare provider.


Adolescents may experience insomnia for a variety of reasons. Poor sleep can seriously impact their well-being.

Keeping a regular sleep schedule, limiting screen time, winding down before bed, avoiding sleep-disrupting behaviors, and prioritizing sleep can all help improve sleep hygiene in teens.

A Word From Verywell

If your teenager is having trouble sleeping at night, or is tired during the day, you may want to take them to see their healthcare provider. They may offer solutions that help your teen sleep better at night and feel better during the day.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it normal for teenagers to have a hard time sleeping?

    Yes. Studies show between 62% to 73% of teens report sleeping under eight hours a night, despite needing about eight to 10 hours a night.

  • What are natural sleep aids for teenagers?

    Melatonin supplements may help your teen sleep. However, they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Always speak with your child's healthcare provider before giving them this or any supplement.

  • What are symptoms of insomnia in teenagers?

    Symptoms of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, as well as waking up too early, and feeling tired during the day.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Owens JA, Weiss MR. Insufficient sleep in adolescents: causes and consequencesMinerva Pediatr. 2017;69(4). doi:10.23736/S0026-4946.17.04914-3

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Effects of light on circadian rhythms.

  3. Michigan Medicine. 10 tips to help your teen sleep better.

  4. Hale L, Guan S. Screen time and sleep among school-aged children and adolescents: a systematic literature reviewSleep Med Rev. 2015;21:50-58. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2014.07.007

  5. Nemours TeensHealth. Common sleep problems.

  6. American Sleep Association. Late night snacking and its effect on sleep.

  7. Garcia AN, Salloum IM. Polysomnographic sleep disturbances in nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, cocaine, opioid, and cannabis use: a focused review: polysomnographic changes in substance use. Am J Addict. 2015;24(7):590-598. doi:10.1111/ajad.12291

  8. Kansagra S. Sleep disorders in adolescentsPediatrics. 2020;145(Supplement_2):S204-S209. doi:10.1542/peds.2019-2056I

  9. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Melatonin: what you need to know.

  10. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Insomnia.

By Brandon Peters, MD
Brandon Peters, MD, is a board-certified neurologist and sleep medicine specialist.