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8 Ezzz Sleep Tips for Teens

Having trouble getting enough sleep? If you're like most teens, the answer is yes.

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An irregular sleep-wake disorder means you are awake most of the night, perhaps playing your Wii or Nintendo DS Lite. Then you need to sleep much of the next day to feel good. Teens who stay up until the wee hours of morning on weekends have problems getting their bodies to fall asleep early on Sunday night so they can be fresh for school on Monday. Many teens claim to nod off in their first class, as they cannot wake up.

While a study at Brown University found that teens need just as much sleep as they did when they were preteens (about 9 to 10 hours), teens get on average just over seven hours of sleep a night. In the past, researchers rarely linked more sleep with high grades. However, in this study, they said that teens who got A's on their report cards got an hour more sleep at night and went to bed an hour earlier than peers who got D's and F's.

8 Ezzz Sleep Tips for Teens

So how can you change your sleep habits? Try these sleep tips:

1. Make your bedroom a quiet place. Turn your computer off before you get in bed. If your home is loud at night, wear earplugs.

2.   Take a hot bath or shower before bed to boost deep sleep. Then keep your room cool (about 68 F) to cool your body. One study showed that sleep happens when the body cools. Wakefulness occurs when the body temperature warms up.

3. If light bothers you, put blackout shades in your windows. Make sure your door is shut when you go to bed. Turn your clock with the face toward the wall, so you don’t check the time all night long. You can also buy a lightweight and comfortable sleep mask at most stores that will cover your eyes and prevent light entry. When you get up on school days, open your shades, and turn on your light. The early light of day helps to “reset” your brain to push your bedtime to an earlier hour.

4. If you are stressed, relax with soft music or yoga right before bedtime. If you can’t relax, ask your doctor for help.

5.  Go to bed early when you’re ill. Even an hour earlier each night can help give your body the sleep it needs to get well. Be sure to plan for this added sleep time if you have to get up early for school.

6. In the book Smart Cookies Don’t Get Stale, dietitians Catherine Christie, PhD, and Susan Mitchell, PhD, say to eat high-carb snacks before bed. This makes you feel warm and sleepy. Try pretzels, cereal, graham crackers, fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice, vanilla wafers, saltines, popcorn, or toast with jam or jelly.

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