A lot of kids seem to be experiencing a serious lack of sleep these days, so I thought it might be a good time to share some tried and true tips for catching z’s that work for my clients.
Warning! Do not try putting teens to sleep by telling them what it was like to be a teen when you were their age (it probably works but it’s just cruel). This system that has worked on people of all ages fairly consistently over the past 10 years. Now, if your teen is getting absolutely no sleep and this persists for more then a few days, I suggest that you go and see a physician but, outside of that, the following tips for healthy sleep can be very helpful.
A good night of sleep is all about patterns, disruptions to those patterns and ways to reboot those patterns back to a healthy place. Make sure to use numbers one to six and then add one from tips seven to ten (try them all, some might work at one time and another the next).
10 Tips and Healthy Habits for Solid Sleep
- Qualify and quantify—Figure out when your “good time” for going to bed is, which is different from your usual time and much different from your “can’t sleep” time. Make note of it and use your good time as a yardstick towards full sleep then note how much sleep time has you waking up refreshed (it may vary).
- Ritual is right—It’s a great thing to have a rhythm (time of sleep) and a ritual of things you do. They inform your mind it’s time to prepare for sleep. Figure out what your regular routine is, i.e. brushing your teeth, listening to music, analog reading along with some form of quieting the mind.
- Down with Digital—You are probably reading this on a screen. That’s okay. Just avoid doing so at least an hour before bed. There are a lot of studies that suggest that the light given off by most screens stimulates the brain and stops melatonin from being produced. This prolongs your start to being sleepy (my wife can fall asleep to any screen as long as it has a movie on it that I want to watch with her—what’s up with that?)
- Tomorrow is another day—Once you hit the pillow act like Scarlett. Don’t fret about what is going to happen, or what has not happened. Just be in the moment.
- Embrace the Dark—Unless you have issues with it, the darker the room, the better and deeper your sleep will be. They say that even our skin can register light and remember that it wasn’t so long ago that the only light at night was the campfire and when that was out it was pitch black for most parts of the month. Let the room be as dark as you can handle it.
- Faith—If you believe in it, it will come. Sometimes we tend to worry about getting a good night sleep so much that we prevent any of the techniques from taking hold and helping us to create a regular sleep pattern. Believe in the result. Unless there is a reason for it, have faith that your body will do what it needs to for you to have nourishing sleep.
- Relaxing the Inventory—Sometimes we need to redirect our minds from over-thinking at night. Try this exercise; it works for a great deal of people: Starting at your toes, focus on the muscles of your toes. Tense them (or try to imagine them tensing) and begin to imagine relaxing them. Repeat the exercise on every muscle group going up the body: feet, ankles, calves, knees etc.,
- Big Breaths—Lying on your back or your side, start following the flow of your breathing. Feel it coming into your body and experience your breath deep in your belly. Feel it ebb and flow and just put all of your focus there.
- Sound of Silence—Listen to the sounds in the room and the sounds inside yourself. Focus on them as simple sounds without attaching any meaning or judgments to them. Become aware of the space between the sounds and gradually turn your attention more and more to the silent space.
- Guided Sleep—There is a whole industry created to give you affirmations, hypnosis, music and many other sound-based CD’s/mp3’s to give you an outside source to help guide you to sleep. Many of my clients have been using this particular CD for sleep and they seem to love it.
One more thing: The last thoughts in our mind as we drift to sleep lay the seeds for the start of the new day. Sew seeds of thankfulness, of awe for the beauty of the simple things in life and joy for all the possible adventures that may seek you out and you shall reap the rewards upon awakening.
Stay tuned for more upcoming articles from Ken
Friday Apr 6 Part 9 of the 12 Steps to Success for Young Adults -
Forming New Boxes of Safety out in the Real World
Friday, Apr 13 What’s The Point of Doing This? – The Teenage Mantra
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Do you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep? What are some of your tips for sleeping or helping your kids get to sleep? Share your thoughts and tips in the Comments section below.