Sleep - dos and don'ts

Did you know?

Sleep is as important to us as food and water. It is the time when our body repairs itself and when our mind can rest. Without good, restful sleep we may find it hard to concentrate, feel irritable or moody, be more likely to make mistakes, fall behind on schoolwork, and have a slower reaction time.
Teenagers need 9 - 10 hours of sleep a night……and many don’t get this! It is natural for a teenager to feel sleepy later in the evening and go to bed later, but this also leads to a preference for waking later. Unfortunately with school comes early mornings, so read on to learn some tips for a good night sleep!

The do’s and don’ts for a great night sleep!


• Go to bed & get up at the same time each day – this helps our natural body clock to develop a sleep routine or sleep/wake cycle (going to bed or waking up 2 hours later on a weekend is ok)
• Only go to bed when you are feeling sleepy - we have a natural ‘body clock’ which makes us feel sleepy when we are ready to go to bed. Don’t ignore this feeling!
• Get some exercise during the day – this helps to use up some energy and make us feel tired
• Spend some time outdoors in sunlight or natural light – this helps to reset our body clock and helps with developing a regular sleep/wake cycle
• Make the bedroom as restful as possible – not too hot or cold, not too light, not too noisy
• Use your bedroom for sleep only! – not for watching TV, playing on the computer, texting, eating etc. We need our body to associate the bedroom with sleep, not with activity!
• Set aside ‘worry time’ during the day – set aside 20-30 mins as your worry time. If you find it hard to get to sleep because you are worrying about things, write down your worries and save them for the next day’s ‘worry time’
• Develop a routine before bed – train your body and mind to feel relaxed and ready for sleep (eg: a warm bath, cleaning teeth, warm milk, light reading, relaxation or breathing exercises before bed). Do this every night.
• Get yourself organised for the next day – pack your bag, get your clothes ready, get your lunch organised.


• Exercise just before going to bed – don’t exercise in the 2-3 hours before bed time, this will stimulate you and make it harder to get to sleep.
• Do anything stimulating just before bed – no homework, TV, computer games, loud music, phone calls etc about an hour before bed.
• Consume stimulants in the afternoon – after 3pm no coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, chocolate, nicotine, alcohol etc
• Nap – try not to nap during the day. If you really must, don’t nap for any longer than an hour and not after 3pm.
• Stay in bed if you’re awake – if you’re still awake after 20-30 mins, get up and do something boring in dim light until you feel sleepy again.
• Keep looking at the clock– this can make things worse and make you feel even more frustrated that you’re not asleep! If you need your clock for an alarm, turn it around so you aren’t tempted to look at it. Even better, remove it from your room!