Best For You


The NHS website says that teenagers need a minimum of eight to ten hours of good sleep a night.

This stuff’s important. Good sleep can have a positive effect on your mood, concentration, and immune system. It can even reduce your risk of accidents, injuries, and serious medical conditions.

The good news is that there are things we can do to help our bodies (and our minds) get this all-important rest. But sometimes, sleep tips can feel overwhelming – like they expect you to change your life overnight.

We’ve put together some ideas – including some ‘starter options’ if you want to make changes one small step at a time.

An illustration of a woman with brown skin and black hair asleep in a bed. She has a thought bubble, in which text says ‘sleep tips’.

Caffeine

Caffeine is in cola, coffee, tea, energy drinks and cocoa (and yes, that includes chocolate). Basically, caffeine speeds up messages in your nervous system, which makes you feel more alert. It also blocks receptors in your brain, stopping them from taking in adenosine (a sleep-promoting chemical). Not exactly helpful when you’re trying to wind down.

Big action: cut out caffeine and be curious about how doing so makes you feel.

Little action: start to reduce the amount of caffeine you have each day and work towards not having any caffeine for the last six hours of the day.

Talk about what’s on your mind

Have you ever been awake all night, worrying or thinking about something? It’s common for people to reflect at the end of the day – and with fewer distractions, worries and thoughts can seem ‘louder’.

The anxiety or stress that follows can affect how our bodies produce cortisol (a hormone that makes us more alert) and melatonin (a hormone that helps us sleep).

Big action: find a time (not too close to bedtime) and space to talk to someone about the stuff that’s in your mind.

Little action: if thoughts or feelings are stopping you from falling asleep, write them down on a piece of paper and put them in a container on the other side of the room to ‘deal with’ in the morning.

Routine

Bedtime routines aren’t just for toddlers. Doing the same things in the same order before bed helps your brain and body understand that it’s time to sleep.

Big action: experiment with a bedtime routine. Be curious, and try things like having a bath or shower, listening to music or a ‘sleep story’, writing down things you’re thankful for, or breathing exercises.

Little action: try one thing before bed to help you sleep, then keep practising until you feel confident doing it every day. Then explore adding one more thing to your new mini-routine.

Weekends and holidays

It’s very tempting to sleep in for a long time at weekends (and in holidays from school, college, or work) – but doing that can disrupt your body clock!

Big action: go to bed and wake up at the same times every day – even at the weekend.

Little action: control how much you vary your bedtime and the time you wake up at the weekends, starting with little changes (like waking up half an hour earlier).

We have to mention screens

We’re used to having our phones or tablets on our bedside tables, but you’ve probably heard that they’re not exactly helpful when it comes to sleep.

Remember melatonin, that natural hormone that helps control our sleep? Some research says that the blue-wavelength light from our screens can prevent our bodies producing melatonin! It can also affect the amount of time you spend in different stages of the sleep cycle.

Big action: stop using screens at least an hour before bed and don’t keep them in your room overnight – switch to an old-fashioned alarm clock instead.

Little action: start by spending 5 or 10 minutes away from screens before bed (and then build up your screen-free time). In the evening, switch your devices to ‘night time mode’ or dim the displays