How to Help Teenagers Sleep

Get teens off the couch: Exercise makes falling asleep easier and promotes deep sleep, Seligman says. Encourage 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day. Chores and family activities can get blood pumping; teens can walk the dog, rake leaves, vacuum or join you on a brisk walk around the mall.

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Set an appropriate bedtime during the week and enforce a curfew on weekends. If work or extracurricular activities are interfering with sleep, talk with your teen about cutting down on commitments.

Regulate screen time: Circadian rhythms and sleep quality can be disrupted by nighttime light, including the glare of a laptop or television. Set and enforce “media hours” at night.

Encourage naps: Naps aren’t just for preschoolers. Teens and young adults may benefit from a few daytime winks. A post-school snooze can provide energy for homework and evening activities. Just avoid late naps that might interfere with nighttime rest.

Model good sleep habits: Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and sleep when you’re tired. Talk about the importance of sleep and how great you feel after a full night of shut-eye.

If improved habits don’t perk up your sleepy teen, consult a physician or sleep specialist. A treatable sleep disorder like sleep apnea or periodic limb movement disorder may be to blame. Getting to the root of sleep problems can turn an exhausted adolescent into a healthier, happier one, and put your teen on the road to a well-rested future.


Malia Jacobson is a health and parenting journalist and mom of three. Her latest book is Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers and Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades.

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