Get 9-12 (kids) or 8-10 (teens) hours of sleep every night
Many kids don’t think a lot about sleep. There are probably many other things you’d rather do — or feel like you have to do — than lay down and close your eyes. You might feel too busy to stop and sleep, or perhaps you don’t feel tired. It’s also normal to have trouble relaxing after a busy or stressful day. When you lay down, that may be when you think about stuff that’s bothering you.
If you’re a teen, you need between eight and 10 hours of sleep a night. If you’re not a teen, you need even more: between nine to 12 hours. This may seem impossible, but there are some things you can do to get a good night’s sleep.
Wind down for sleep
You’ve probably heard about “personal hygiene,” keeping your body clean by washing your hands, brushing your teeth, and bathing regularly.
There’s another kind of hygiene called “sleep hygiene.” This is a set of healthy habits that set your brain and body up for a good night’s sleep.
Having a nighttime routine that helps you go from a busy day to a restful night is an important part of sleep hygiene. The routine should be calming to help your mind and body wind down and get ready for sleep. There are three key parts:
Turn off screens
At least 30 minutes before bedtime, turn off all screens (phone, computer, tablet, television). Screens are stimulating, and the glare can interfere with your brain’s ability to fall asleep. If you use electronic media right up until bedtime, you are less likely to get a good night’s sleep.
Get ready for bed
This may include taking a warm bath or shower to help you relax, putting on pajamas or whatever you wear to bed, and brushing your teeth. It is best not to eat a big meal right before bedtime, because this can keep you awake while your body works to digest food. A cup of herbal tea or a small snack (like an apple and peanut butter) is fine.
Relax before bedtime
Plan to relax for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Some kids like to read, draw, write in a journal, or listen to soothing music. Dimming the lights can also help you feel drowsy.
As part of a wind down, some kids also like to get ready for the next day. For instance, they lay out their clothes, pack their backpacks, or prepare their lunches. This can help you relax because you won’t have to think about all the things you have to do in the morning.
Set up your sleep space
Another aspect of good sleep is making sure you have a calming, relaxing space that makes you want to go to sleep. Use your bed only for sleeping, not for doing homework, using electronics, or eating. Here are some other things you can do:
Take the television, cell phone, tablet, and computer out of your sleep space. Put away stuff such as clothes and hobbies (or toys) before bedtime.
Make it dark
Pull down window shades and turn off lights. Darkness prompts the brain to release melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” A nightlight or flashlight is okay. If it’s not possible to block out light from entering the room, try wearing an eye mask.
Close doors to block out noise. Background “white noise” like a fan is OK.
Keep it cool
The best temperature for sleep is approximately 65 degrees. Warmer temperatures can cause restless sleep.
Sleep on schedule
As much as possible, it’s a good idea to go to bed and get up at about the same time each day, even on weekends. Sleeping until late morning or noon on weekends will make you feel extremely tired on Monday morning.
Come up with your own wind down plan to get ready for sleep. Download the worksheet
Using the Boston Children’s fit kit, kids learn the main message for sleep and strategies for getting a good night’s sleep. Download the tracker.