During the teen years, the mind and body are developing so rapidly that getting adequate sleep is an essential. Young adults are often in a stressful stage of life transitioning from teenager to adult. And, as adults, it can become difficult as we age to get the sleep we need.
For teenagers, it is recommended that they get 8-10 hours of regular, uninterrupted sleep a night. For young adults and adults, 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended.
Getting the sleep we need is essential for optimal brain health. It is also an essential to help us with peak physical performance. Among other things, proper sleep can help to:
Increase focus and concentration
Increase our productivity at school or work
Lower risk for weight gain
Improve athletic performance
For teenagers and for many young adults, returning to school is just around the corner. Summertime usually does not lend well to great sleep habits. For many teenagers and young adults, starting school also means adjusting their sleep schedule to ensure optimal performance (and just to simply stay awake during class)!
While we know that sleep is an essential to good mental and physical health, getting it can sometimes be a challenge.
Ways to Improve Our Sleep at Night
I recently received an email from a person who authored the "Complete Guide to Sleeping Better". Reading through this guide provides a lot of insight into:
Why sleep is so important,
The effects on our mind and body of poor sleep habits,
The benefits of proper sleep, etc.
This article also provides great suggestions for teens, young adults, and adults alike on how to improve our sleep. Below are a few of those suggestions.
1. Stick to a Schedule
I get it. Raising teenagers, it can be challenging to stick to ANY schedule let alone a sleep schedule. Yet, if you are able to stick to a sleep schedule as closely as possible, it can make it easier for your body to find its natural Rythm. This can help you fall asleep easier.
For parents of teenagers, this may mean that homework is completed before screen time starts. This seems to be a great motivator for teenagers to get their homework done.
One variable that tends to keep teenagers awake longer than they should is cramming in homework that is due the following day. I have worked with teens who stay up to the early morning hours finishing homework and getting up 4-5 hours later.
If their homework is completed early, they can have the rest of the evening to relax and enjoy their free time. Then, when it's time for bed, it won't be as much of a struggle to pull them from their screen time. It becomes a challenge to have them go to bed when there is still homework to be done.
2. Monitor What You Eat & Drink
Diet can play a role in the quality of sleep you get at night. You should never go to bed hungry while at the same time, try to avoid large meals later in the evening. The best time to eat your evening meal is around 3 hours before you go to bed.
Caffeine consumption also plays a significant role in getting the sleep you need. The half-life of caffeine is around 4-6 hours. This means, from the time that you consumed a caffeinated beverage, it will take 4-6 hours for the caffeine effects to wear off. A good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeinated beverages after 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Eating foods like fruits, vegetables, a small amount of protein during the day, avoiding sugars and eating complex carbohydrates can help. Sugar causes spike and crash where complex carbohydrates can help provide energy without the spikes and crashes.
3. Your Environment Plays a Role
Let the environment in your bedroom be an environment conducive to sleeping. Keeping the light levels low, noise to a minimum, air temperature cool can all help with sleep.
If your bedroom is a room where you sleep, try to avoid the room being used for other activities. If you have used your room as a study room, try studying in a different room. If you are used to watching T.V. in your room, take the T.V. out for a couple of weeks and watch T.V. in a different room. This can make a difference in the speed of onset of sleep as well as the quality of sleep.
Avoid screen time while lying in bed. When it starts to get dark in the evening, this alerts a gland in the brain called the pineal gland to start making a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin helps us fall asleep.
If we are looking at a screen within 30-45 minutes of going to bed, the screen tricks the pineal gland into thinking it's not yet time to produce the melatonin. Avoiding screen time while in bed can help you fall asleep faster.
4. Make Regular Exercise a Part of Your Routine
If you can make getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day in your life this can help you sleep better at night. There are many ways to do this throughout the day. For teenagers, they often have some sort of physical activity build into their daily school schedule. If not, joining a sports team can help.
For adults, taking part of your lunch break to go on a brisk, 30-minute walk can help. Joining a gym motivates others to get up in the morning to start their day. Others may prefer to exercise after work.
Take care to not exercise too close to bedtime, however. Exercise often gives us energy after we exercise. Getting energized right before bed can cause us to take longer to fall asleep.
5. Manage Stress, Anxiety, & Worry
For the brain, the best time to think over and over about the stresses, anxiety, and worry of the day is while we are in bed. This can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Practicing mindfulness meditation is a great way to help the racing thoughts slow down to a crawl. What a better time to practice mindfulness meditation than when we are lying in bed, trying to go to sleep. There are many apps available as well that can provide guided meditations for stress, anxiety, and worry while we are trying to go to sleep.
Some people find it helpful to keep a pad of paper by their bed at night. They write down the stressors, anxiety, and worry they may be thinking about. This helps the brain know that if we stop ruminating on these thoughts, they won't be forgotten and can be addressed the next day. There is nothing that can be done about these things at that time of night anyhow.
When to Seek Help From a Therapist
Everyone is going to have a bad night of sleep for a night or two. However, some of the warning signs that sleep is becoming a problem are if you are finding yourself:
Feeling angry, irritable, and tired during the day
Having a difficult time staying awake at school or work
Having difficulty focusing and concentrating
Having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning
Having the need to take naps throughout the day
Experiencing fluctuations or changes in mood
The first step would be to see your doctor if you are experiencing difficulty sleeping. It's important to rule out anything medical first as the source of the sleep difficulty.
If your medical doctor does not find a physical cause of your poor sleep, a teen therapist or young adult counselor can help. If you are an adult who is having difficulty sleeping, seeing a therapist can help you too.
Often, doctors will recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT has been found very effective for those having difficulty getting and/or staying asleep at night.
Along with CBT, neurofeedback has also shown to be effective for issues related to sleep. While two different approaches to helping you sleep, both can help.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Providing Teen, Young Adult, Family, & Couples Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we have 70+ years of combined experience in providing teen therapy, young adult counseling. and family counseling. We have helped those struggling with emotional or behavioral challenges overcome those challenges.
To start counseling, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Talk with one of our caring therapists
Take the first step in freeing yourself from the challenges in your way
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide a variety of therapy approaches that are supported by research and shown to be effective. Some of the teen therapy and young adult counseling we offer are:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Group Therapy for Teens
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling
To succeed in any relationship takes work. This is a common understanding that many of us have.
However, sometimes life will throw challenges at us that create situations that put strain on our marriage or relationship. It may be due to:
Choices and actions that have been made by one partner.
Financial downturn in the economy creating financial strain.
Feeling like you're growing apart.
Feeling like you don't have as much in common as you used to.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker - Supervisor (LCSW-S), Board Certified in Neurofeedback, EMDR trained, and a Certified Brain Health Professional through the Amen Clinics. He has provided therapy to teens, young adults, and families since 2003 and is the Owner & Lead Clinician at Katy Teen & Family Counseling.
He specializes in leading teams of high performing therapists who also specialize in teen therapy, counseling young adults, and family counseling.
Jason is also a leader in the field of teen, young adult, and family counseling providing coaching and technical assistance to teen Residential Treatment Centers across the country.
Jason is also a regular contributor to various magazines and publications lending his expertise to various mental health related topics. You can check these articles out on our "Featured Articles" service page on our website.
If you are ready to start teen counseling or young adult therapy call, text, or email us today!
Phone Number: 281-519-6364