Teens are famous for scrolling through their phone before bed, which can negatively impact their sleep. Many other factors can also contribute to the lack of sleep among teens. According to a University of Michigan study, 43% of parents say their teens struggle to fall asleep or wake up and can’t get back to sleep. Studies further suggest teenagers need between 9-10 hours of sleep, yet teens average about seven hours or less especially if they are active in after-school activities.
Yoga can help! A recent study showed young adults who regularly practice yoga woke up fewer times in the night – a sign of better sleep quality, in addition to the other positive benefits associated with yoga.
Reasons teenagers are not getting enough sleep:
- Earlier school start. Middle and high schools often have earlier start times and some teenagers have to get up as early as 5:00 AM to get ready for their day.
- Shift in in ‘internal clock’. For teens, puberty can change their internal clock by as much two hours, delaying the point where they sleep so much later at night.
- School and social obligations. After-school activities, academic challenges, and social lives can add a good deal of stress and affect sleep.
Ways teenagers can get better sleep:
- Get up at the same time every day. A consistent sleep schedule helps regulate sleep rhythm. If teens sleep later on the weekend it is suggested for a short time (and not until 2:00pm!)
- Avoid caffeine, smoking, alcohol, and drugs.Consuming caffeine close to bedtime can disrupt sleep, so avoid coffee, tea, soda and chocolate late in the day. Nicotine and alcohol will also interfere with sleep and should be avoided for obvious legal and health reasons.
- Unplug earlier. The blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Reducing melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. Have a rule to charge devices in a place other than bedrooms to reduce the temptation to us them at bedtime. Many teens described a sense of relief when their parents limit phone use because it takes away the pressure to keep up with social news.
- Considerable research shows people sleep better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.
- Keep your room as dark as possible. Make a teen's room a sleep zone. Keep it dark, quiet and at a cooler temperature.
- Practice yoga! Enroll teens in weekly yoga class where they can learn poses and guided meditation techniques that help promote falling asleep easier.
Top Five Poses to Promote Better Sleep:
Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy)
Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-knee forward bend)
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero)
Viparita Karani ( Legs-Up-The-Wall)
I find it’s helpful to remind teens that sleep is food for their brain and cannot be replaced. Do not expect to fall asleep right away. It can take up to a half an hour to fall sleep. And practicing just one or two yoga poses is better than none.
Ann Biese, RYT 500, E-RYT 200, RCYT, MBSR-T, YACEP, is an international Yoga Instructor and Teacher Trainer for ChildLight. She is also a Mindfulness and Meditation Specialist in pediatric settings, including Tufts Floating Hospital for Children in Boston, and has taught MBSR and yoga to various youth groups and teen athletes across the country. She has been a featured speaker on meditation and mindfulness in hospitals. Ann is also the author of the award-winning children's book Worry Bee and Mindful Moon. She enjoys volunteering as an instructor for Go Give Yoga and was featured in North Shore Magazine for her volunteer work in Massachusetts. In her time off the mat, Ann enjoys her family and pets, as well as volunteering at an equine rescue farm. View Ann’s video bio here.