Sleep hygiene tips for teens

Sponsored by Hawaii Catholic Schools

HONOLULU (HI Now) - Whether you’ve seen the studies on teen sleep, or have a teenager in your life, you already know that most teens don’t get enough sleep. In fact, the CDC reports that 7 out of 10 high school students are getting less than eight hours of sleep a night. Sleep is critical for brain health and daily functioning, so less than 8 hours for our teens is not enough. Teens should be aiming for 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.

Tatiana Abasolo is the lead licensed clinician for The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Child & Family Service in Mililani. The Cohen Clinic at Child & Family Service provides targeted statewide outpatient therapy for post 9/11 veterans, active duty servicemembers, and their families. Clinicians like Abasolo used evidence-based practices to treat depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, adjustment issues, anger, grief and loss within the military community. The team has served more than 1,200 members of the military community, including children, since opening less than three years ago.

Here are three ways Abasolo says teenagers can get better sleep tonight.

1.) Putting down your phone or device “one hour” before going to bed. Blue light severely impacts sleep quality. Do your best to change your phone habits before bed. Try charging your phone outside of the bedroom or set a “no phone” time at a consistent hour before bed and place in another area way from bedroom. The goal for this habit is to train our brains to recognize that the bedroom and our beds are only for sleep.

2.) Create a sleep routine and stick with it. Creating a sleep schedule, or sleep hygiene routine, for yourself and the entire family is critical. Consistency is key! Also, consider the need for time management when it comes to prioritizing sleep.

Here’s a scheduling idea: After dinner or homework, transition to shower or brush teeth to cue your body and mind that it is time to slow down. It’s important to stick to the schedule as much as possible. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change, but have at least one thing in your routine that tells your body that it is getting closer to bedtime. For example, if taking a warm bath is helpful to your before you sleep, make it part of your sleep hygiene routine rather than a shower.

3.) There are free ways to help track your progress. A lot of fitness trackers and smart watches also have sleep trackers. One example is the VA’s CBT-I coach app. CBT-I stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, which is an evidence-based approach to assist with trouble sleeping. The cornerstone of CBT-I is that your bed is only the space to sleep. Train your brain to associate bed with sleep. Lead by example, everybody does it together at home to create a sleep routine that works for your family.

The clinic is part of Cohen Veterans Network (CVN,) a not-for-profit philanthropic organization that serves the military community through a nationwide system of mental health clinics.