Teen Sleep is the Best Medicine

July 22, 2022

Teen ZZZZ’s…..The Struggle is Real.

One of the biggest concerns parents have is their teen’s sleeping habits.

What are they worried about?

→ Not getting enough sleep

→ They are up too late

→ They sleep in too long

→ they are being ‘lazy’

This especially peaks as the new school year is looming – all summer things have been more flexible and now they are up till after midnight and sleeping in until noon…..and parents worry about getting back into the getting up for school routine.

The thing about teen sleep that is most surprising:

→ They are physiologically wired to be up later – their melatonin (the fabulous sleep hormone) doesn’t peak and call on sleep until about midnight.

→ naturally a teen will feel fatigue and fall asleep around midnight and sleep until about 10am – getting the 9-10 hours they need!

→ teens aren’t being ‘lazy’ – their physiology just differs!! And we need to work with it!

However we all know our current school schedule does not cater to teen neurodevelopment!

SO, yes naturally they are up alter and want to sleep in, and during the summer, I say let them enjoy being in their natural flow. HOWEVER, once school starts again, ideally some adjustments are being made to ensure they are getting enough zzzzz’s!

Since we are pushing against their natural physiology it does take a bit of extra effort. Building sleep hygiene and sleep rituals are key in supporting helping them wind down earlier and signalling their brain its time to sleep.

I will say though, your teen has to want to get more sleep. It helps to figure out how not getting sleep is impacting THEM.

            Are morning classes a struggle for them to get through or get they grades they want?

            Are they an athlete who wants to improve performance?

            Are they dealing with a mental health struggle?

            Do they have ADHD?

            Do they have a license and want to borrow the car? (Need to be rested to safely drive ;))

Once a teen resonates with their OWN why on why sleep matters, it helps the buy in to build some helpful sleep routines to get them to lala land a bit easier and a bit earlier.

As September approaches I often encourage teens to start pulling their bedtime back by 20min every few nights a week or 2 before school starts. This can help with the sudden transition. Some teens love prepping for it, but others just go cold turkey – and thats ok too!

Here are the top tips I share with my teen patients when working on their sleep:

YOUR SLEEPING ENVIRONMENT:

Our bodies get the best sleep when:

  • we are in a very dark room its the right temperature – about 18C
  • our bed is used for sleeping only – all homework, studying, watching TV should be done somewhere else.
  • limited your blue-light exposure put nightshift on screens, get blue-light blocking glasses avoid videos, and scrolling social media an hour before bed – only use phones for socializing/texting/DMing)

HOW TO TELL YOUR BRAIN ITS TIME TO SLEEP:

It’s all about calming down. And it’s all about the ritual. Having a ritual and repeating the same tasks every time we get ready for bed gives our brains and bodies the signals that it’s time to sleep. Here are some suggestions of activities that are calming:

  • reading
  • listening to audible or a podcast
  • bath or shower
  •  meditation
  • stretching routine
  • drinking a herbal tea (chamomile)

BUILD YOUR ‘BEDTIME ROUTINE’:

Write down your favourite relaxing activities. Also write down your personal hygiene steps like brushing, flossing and washing your face. These steps are the beginning of you building your own sleep habits! Figure out what order best suits you. Ideally turn it into a checklist, post it up to help you remember – in no time it will be a habit!

If you want to hear me talk more on teens and sleep: Listen to podcast to lean more here: The Word on the Sleep: The Teen Truth: Why letting your teen sleep in is the best medicine.

To learn more, book a virtual Teen Wellness Discovery Session using the link below.

Meet Dr. Erin TeWinkel – the Teen Wellness Warrior!

Dr. TeWinkel is on a mission to improve teen health and build it’s foundations so they can own their health for the rest of their life.

When a teen is supported in their health early on, the stage for success can really be set.

Teens and their families are often given limited choices to deal with their health concerns. Whether it be hormonal struggles, acne, painful periods, anxiety and depression, dieting and healthy weight management or sexual health – all of these can be addressed with a tailored plan to each teen.

With a strong clinical focus on gut and brain health optimization, Dr. TeWinkel has created the Teen Resliency Method to ensure our teens are strong, resilient and HAPPY.

She is here to empower and support teens and their families throughout the many ups and downs of adolescence. Teens have an immense unharnessed potential – she is here to ensure that potential shines.

Erin is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and the University of Guelph. She was born and raised a farm girl – but fell in love with the city. She now lives here with her growing family and is usually found putting her epic skills as a fort engineer or LEGO Masterbuilder to use.

Follow Dr. TeWinkel on Instagram @drtewinkel and book a Teen Wellness Discovery Session here

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