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How to Help Teenagers Fall Asleep

by Liza Blau

Most teens need approximately nine hours of sleep or more per night to be fully alert the following day, according to MayoClinic.com. Between surfing the Internet, sending text messages to buddies, becoming skilled at video games, developing an active social life and keeping up with homework, it's no wonder your teen isn't getting enough shut eye. Sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on his ability to function well in school and lead to behavioral and mood problems. Help your teen fall asleep at night so he can catch those beneficial Zs.

Set a regular sleep schedule so your teen goes to bed and wakes up at a regular time, even on weekends. Puberty alters the body clock of teenagers, which is why they often don't feel tired until past 11 p.m. or later, according to MayoClinic.com. Give him time to adjust to the new regimen. He might be tired for the next few days as his body clock adjusts, but eventually it'll become easier for him to fall asleep on schedule.

Stop all stimulating activities at least one hour before bedtime to prepare his body and mind for sleep. Don't allow him to play video games, listen to loud music, watch action movies, text his friends, talk on the phone, run laps or engage in other activities that keep him wound up. Because bright light can cause the brain to believe it's time to wake up, he should shut down the computer and TV. Remove his TV, computer, cell phone and other electronic gadgets from his bedroom, if necessary. Encourage your teen to read a book, meditate or take a warm shower to help him wind down.

Restrict late night snacks. Eating too much before bedtime can cause your teen to suffer digestive discomfort such as heartburn, which is a regurgitation of acid and food into the esophagus, making it difficult for him to sleep, according to MayoClinic.com. Avoid soda and candy before bed -- they're often filled with caffeine. Serve him chamomile tea that's naturally relaxing and is caffeine free.

Create an environment that's conducive to sleep. Ensure that the temperature in his bedroom isn't too cold or hot, and the window coverings are thick enough to block out light. Ask him if his mattress is comfortable -- if he complains that it causes back pain, purchase a firmer mattress. Take him to the bedding store and allow him to test several different mattresses to find one that supports his back. Keep your teen's bedroom door shut to block out any noise coming from other parts of your home.

Take your teen to a doctor if he continues to have trouble falling asleep and his drowsiness during the day is adversely affecting his ability to perform in school. In some cases, an inability to fall asleep can be an indication of depression.

Tip

  • Don't allow your teen to nap more than 30 minutes during the day, recommends the TeensHealth website. Excessive daytime napping can keep him awake at night.

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