Sleep tips for your teenage son
Over the holidays, I have been checking in with my Year 12 students on how they are coping while isolating at home.
Many have reported they are struggling with their sleep habits, often finding themselves alert at midnight, doing their best work at 1am and not getting to sleep until 3am.
Importantly, my students who would normally love to be up all night recognise that this is not good. They are worrying about their lack of sleep or, as I call it, the ‘stay-at-home jetlag’.
I know that I am also not sleeping as well as usual. I am a mother and a teacher and even I can’t get my sleep always right.
So it is timely for all of us to revisit some key sleeping habits, and I’m also hoping that I will follow some of my own advice!
Model good sleep habits
- Keep the bedroom only for sleeping. Make sure any TV or computer games happen in another part of the house.
- Avoid caffeine in the evenings.
- Read news articles no later than 9pm, or even earlier, to encourage his brain to switch off.
- Keep bedrooms cool; 19 degrees is considered the perfect sleeping temperature.
Encourage sleep rituals that allow him control
- Allow your teenager to go to bed only when he is tired.
- If he can’t fall asleep, let him get out of bed and go to another part of the house until he feels sleepy (but no devices).
- A warm shower or bath before bed can help him to relax.
- Make sure he gets up at the same time every day. He will sleep better the next night and hopefully re-sync his circadian rhythm.
- Engage in a relaxing activity before bed, such as listening to music, preferably slower beats. This Spotify playlist is one recommendation.
Help him to cope with anxiety and stress
- Reassure him not to worry about not being able to fall asleep. He will eventually.
- Encourage him not to watch the clock. Getting some sleep is more important than worrying about how much.
- If he still can’t switch off, 10 minutes of mindfulness or meditation can be useful. Try an app like Smiling Mind Or he can try breathing retraining
Remember it is a tough time for all of us right now. A key thing we can all do is take care of ourselves and each other and one of the best ways to do that is starting with our own self-care.Meg Adem is a Science and Psychology teacher, writer and Head of House at Brighton Grammar, an all-boys school in Melbourne. This article is about Parenting
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