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Teen’s sleep

Tired black student yawning and stretching during his remote studies from home. African American youth exhausted from getting ready for test or writing coursework, feeling sleepy in front of laptopA good night’s sleep is essential for your child’s growth and development. Having good sleep will help your teen:

  • look and feel better
  • cope better in situations especially at school, with a better attention span, being able to learn more effectively and solve problems
  • digest, reflect and store what they learnt during the day
  • to rest and repair from the day’s activities, supporting their immune system and protecting them from illnesses, helping to ward off colds and other minor ailments
  • with their emotional and mental health.

Here’s some practical tips if you’re struggling to get your teen to get enough sleep.

  • Emphasise how important sleep is to your teen and that they need at least eight hours of sleep on a school night.
  • Encourage them to keep active.
  • Suggest they cut down on caffeine or stop having caffeinated drinks or food like chocolate earlier in the day.
  • Feeling overfull or hungry can cause discomfort so remind them to eat dinner a couple of hours before bed.
  • Suggest a good bed routine to your teen – doing the same things in the same order before going to sleep can help get their body ready for sleep.
  • Turn off all screens an hour before bedtime including TV, tablets and phones. Screen activities can be over-stimulating and inhibit the production of the sleep hormone melatonin that helps your teen feel tired and ready to sleep.
  • Make sure they have a good sleep environment – a room that is dark, cool, quiet, safe and comfortable. Remove electronic devices if possible or try to zone areas for work and sleep.
  • Teen walking alongEnd the day on a positive note by sharing some nice things that happened during the day. Give them the chance to talk over worries they might have. If they don’t want to share their feelings with you encourage them to talk to another trusted adult or keep a diary to help make sense of, or get rid of, the thoughts.
  • Mindfulness techniques can help promote relaxation and better-quality sleep.
  • Encourage your teen to concentrate on breathing in and out slowly. Teach the technique where they breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and then breathe out for four seconds.
  • Teach your teen to progressively relax the muscles in their body. This means starting by tensing the feet to the count of five and then letting them relax. Next, tensing the calf muscles, and relax. Then move up to the thighs, and so on, until they reach the top of their heads, and have relaxed every bit of their body.

Families who might need further support

Some young people may need more support around sleep sometimes because they struggle to communicate how they’re feeling, or they may have sensory issues and heightened anxiety levels. Visit The Sleep Charity and Scope UK for more information and support. Kent School Health can also offer one-to-one support based on your child’s unique needs.

Families in Kent can access the ‘Understanding your child with additional needs’ online course. This looks at some particular aspects of parenting such as sleep and anger management, helping to make it easier to work with your child's behaviour as well as supporting their development. Go to ‘In Our Place’ and apply the access code Invicta to register for an account.

Kent School Health offers one-to-one support based on your child’s unique needs. Visit our special educational needs or neurodivergence pages for more information on the support available for you and your child.

Useful resources

The Teen Sleep Hub has lots of information for teens and their parents around sleep.