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Sleep Do’s and Don’ts for teens

Sleep is way more than just something boring we have to do at night because there’s nothing else going on.  It’s very important and has as much of an impact on our mental and physical health as the things we do when we’re awake.  However, there’s a lot of advice out there around what we should and shouldn’t do to get a good night’s sleep and it can be difficult to know what to listen to and what to ignore.  So we’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts specifically for teenagers to help aid a restful slumber – But remember nobody’s perfect and there’s isn’t one winning formula to nailing your night time routine. Just keep experimenting and you’ll be sure to experience the benefits sooner or later.


Table 1


Do separate your bedroom from your work space. As a general rule it is best to restrict your bedroom to sleeping only. When you live in a busy household your bedroom can be a nice quiet haven to get work done in, but this can make it much harder to switch off and forget about work when it does come to bedtime. Don’t drink caffeinated drinks less than 6 hours before going to bed. Caffeine found in such drinks as tea, coffee, green tea and energy drinks is a stimulant. This means it causes us to feel more alert, awake and sometimes even jittery than we would normally and if it doesn’t have time to flush out of our body before bedtime it will make it much harder to get a good night’s sleep.
Do Try using guided relaxations and breathing techniques to help you get to sleep. You can find loads of these on YouTube and there are also a number of apps that can help support a good night’s sleep. So long as you listen to the content and don’t look at the bright screen you’re all good. Don’t use electrical devices with back-lit screens before bed. This is because the “blue” light emitted by devices such as smart phones, MP3 players, Kindles and computers supresses our melatonin levels (the sleep hormone) meaning we feel less sleepy at bed time, get a poorer quality of sleep when we do nod off, and may wake up feeling sleepier and less motivated to get up.
Do nap strategically – whilst a short nap (no longer than 20 minutes) in the early afternoon can boost our energy levels to get through the afternoon, sleeping for long chunks in the daytime, or getting too much sleep (over 8-10 hours a night) can mess with our natural circadian rhythms and make it much harder for us to get to sleep at night time. Don’t keep your mobile phone by your bed. Not only is the blue light alerting, but the sound of message alerts going off and the temptation to look at them can cause continued distraction just as we’re about to drop off. If you use your phone as an alarm clock consider in investing in a separate alarm (preferably one without a lit up screen) to ensure you wake up on time.
Do avoid too much background noise. However, some people find that a bit of background sound or white noise (such as the TV, radio or an electric fan) can drown out other noises that can be more distracting. However leaving the TV, radio etc. on all night can interrupt our deeper sleep cycles, so if you can it’s best to set a timer to make sure such devices switch off once you’re asleep. Don’t underestimate the importance of a stable sleep/wake routine. Having a good routine around when you wake up and go to sleep can really help your body prepare for both events. This will ensure you are much more likely to be able to fall asleep quickly and peacefully, and feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning.

Source: The above table uses sources taken from websites and books listed in the “Help and information” section of this document.