Teen mental health and sleep

What’s stopping teenagers sleeping?

As mentioned, the change in circadian rhythm will have a significant influence over the ability to fall asleep however there are many other factors that can be an issue, especially during the teenage years.3

Social Media – adolescents who use social media more – both overall and at night – and those who were more emotionally invested in social media experienced poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety and depression.10

Blue light exposure – blue light emitted from devices such as phones, tablets, televisions and computer screens inhibit the production of melatonin. Therefore, the use of screens late at night can inhibit sleep.

Vicious circle – insufficient sleep causes a teenager’s brain to become more active. An over-aroused brain is less able to fall asleep.

Hectic after-school schedule – homework, sport, part-time work and social commitments can cut into a teenager’s sleeping time

Social attitudes – in Western culture, keeping active is valued more than sleep

Top tips for a good night’s sleep

Try relaxation promoting activities such as yoga, yoga nidra, meditation, mindfulness, breathing and massage Take a warm/hot Epsom salt (a handful) bath before bed to aid sleep and relaxation. Hot baths bring blood vessels to the surface allowing your core body temperature to cool, which helps the body prepare for sleep, as body temperature begins to drop during night Ensure daytime full light exposure as well as activity. Take a run or walk during daylight hours to top up on serotonin and vitamin D. Ensure you don’t exercise too late in the evening as this can delay sleep onset Keep noises down (earplugs might help) Keep the room cool. Most people sleep best at around 18oC with adequate ventilation Make sure the bed is comfortable. Waking often with a sore back or neck suggests the mattress or pillow may need changing Create an aesthetic environment that encourages sleep – use serene and restful colours and eliminate clutter and distraction Avoid work or watching television in bed Consider using a relaxation, meditation or guided imagery app, any of these may help with getting to sleep and will certainly help with relaxation. Cut down on caffeine Start your bedtime routine a little earlier than usual (for example, 10 minutes). Do this for one week, then add an extra 10 minutes every week until you have reached your desired bedtime Get active during the day so you are more physically tired at night