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10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits for Optimum Health, Learning, and Living

In the previous chapter you learned a number of ways you can start talking to your teen about getting the right amount and the best quality of sleep—without starting World War III. My daughter Elyssa told you about what worked—and didn’t work—for her and how she came to understand that sleep is a priority.

Now I want to tell you about 10 different ways you can help your teen actually get that all-important sleep—without starting World War III. All of the strategies have been field tested with both my patients and my daughters and have proven to be very beneficial in helping them improve their sleep habits.

Before I start talking about the 10 steps, though, I want to emphasize that improving sleep habits needs to be a cooperative effort—you can do everything in your power to convince your teen that she needs to get a reasonable amount of sleep, but you can’t make her sleep. Achieving good results will happen by calmly (and at a nonstressful time) providing guidelines and suggestions, then encouraging your teen to work out and take ownership of the sleep routine that seems best, then letting her follow the routine—and either reap the benefits or suffer through the consequences. Many parents of teens would love to just lay down the rules and have them followed, but at this age adolescents want to be independent and feel in charge. It may take compro-



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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits 8 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits for Optimum Health, Learning, and Living In the previous chapter you learned a number of ways you can start talking to your teen about getting the right amount and the best quality of sleep—without starting World War III. My daughter Elyssa told you about what worked—and didn’t work—for her and how she came to understand that sleep is a priority. Now I want to tell you about 10 different ways you can help your teen actually get that all-important sleep—without starting World War III. All of the strategies have been field tested with both my patients and my daughters and have proven to be very beneficial in helping them improve their sleep habits. Before I start talking about the 10 steps, though, I want to emphasize that improving sleep habits needs to be a cooperative effort—you can do everything in your power to convince your teen that she needs to get a reasonable amount of sleep, but you can’t make her sleep. Achieving good results will happen by calmly (and at a nonstressful time) providing guidelines and suggestions, then encouraging your teen to work out and take ownership of the sleep routine that seems best, then letting her follow the routine—and either reap the benefits or suffer through the consequences. Many parents of teens would love to just lay down the rules and have them followed, but at this age adolescents want to be independent and feel in charge. It may take compro-

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits SNOOZE NEW Hard as it may be to believe, you’re not the only one who freaks out when you look at your teen’s topsyturvy room. Completely cluttered bedrooms actually rattle many of their inhabitants, adding yet more low-level anxiety to their already stressful world. They won’t want to clean it up, most likely, but, though it’s hard to get them to own up to it, being in there doesn’t make them feel good either. Many teens feel happier in a more balanced room, and feel overwhelmed if their room is pretty much a disaster area. Try gently asking your teen if she would like help sorting through things, but keep in mind that teens like to feel their room is their domain—even if it looks like the city dump. mising on both your parts to find a solution that works, but the rewards will definitely be worth it. To aid your discussions, you might recommend that your teen read through this book or at least some of the chapters, including this one. Or try leaving the book along your teen’s path to the refrigerator—it might just get picked up and browsed. Strategy 1: Establish a Sleep-Friendly Environment If your teen’s room is a calm, comfy, cozy place to be, it’s much more likely that she will be able to relax and, yes, actually sleep there. Try these tips for creating an appealing, sleep-promoting haven: Encourage your teen to rearrange the furniture to make her feel comfortable and the room feel different, to reinforce the idea that a change is being made—for the better. You might even propose a trip to a yard sale or favorite store to pick up a few inexpensive items to add a new, personal touch. Or your teen might want to pick out some posters or make a collage of photos, drawings, and memorabilia. Give your teen free rein (within budget restrictions) and encourage creativity to turn the room into a sanctuary that makes her feel soothed, relaxed, and ready to wind down. COLOR IT CALM According to color consultants and Feng Shui specialists, soft blues and greens are great colors for bedrooms because they’re easy on the eyes and promote relaxation. Other good color choices are beige, tan, light yellow, and peach.

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits To make room for the new things and to give the space a less frenetic feel, encourage your teen to get rid of excess belongings. While your daughter probably hates to clean the room, if it’s part of a room makeover it’s more likely to happen. Offer to lend a hand, but leave the choice of what stays and what goes up to her. Talk with your teen about finding a space other than the bedroom to do homework; the bedroom should be a place just for relaxing activities and sleeping. Suggest your teen use the dining room table or any quiet place where there won’t be interruptions and she won’t hear other family members on the phone or watching TV. Books and papers will have to be put away at the end of the evening, but it’s likely work will get done more quickly in a place without distractions. Try to keep your teen’s room a bit on the cool side at night. Your body prepares you for sleep by lowering your temperature, and a cool room can aid in that process. Strategy 2: Limit the Use of Tvs, Phones, Instant Messaging, Video Games, and Computers Staying connected requires that teens stay awake. By limiting plugged-in time, you’ll be promoting sleep time. (See how the variety of electronics works to keep your teen from getting enough rest in Chapter 5.) Ask your teen to pick a time to say goodnight to friends on the phone or sign off from the computer—after she has finished doing homework, turned off the TV, and gotten ready for bed. Having a set time will keep communication from going on all night, but if it’s at the end of the evening teens won’t feel they’re missing much, since their buddies will need to sleep too. If there’s a TV in your teen’s bedroom, think about moving it out; having a TV in the bedroom is not a teen right of passage. A TV is a big distraction, and it will be easier for your teen to turn it off and move on if it’s not in the same place where she sleeps. To encourage teens to watch less TV, remind them that programming is funded by commercials whose goal it is to keep them watching. Urge your kids not to let advertising turn them into an easy mark and to decide for

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits themselves what’s cool—with enough rest they’ll be more clearheaded and better able to make good decisions. Ask kids to be selective about what they watch and to turn off the TV the moment their program is over—without letting the next commercial play. While watching TV can keep kids up, listening to music can help them sleep. If your teen is in bed and can’t sleep, have her plug into a CD or MP3 player with the goal of listening to soothing music to relax and go to sleep by. Remind your teen to choose the music carefully and to keep the volume low and the room lights off. A Case Western University study reported that people who play calm music for 45 minutes before bedtime drift off sooner and sleep longer than those who try to fall asleep in silence. In addition to MP3 players, stereo systems or boom boxes can provide soothing sounds. CDs of gentle nature sounds, such as waterfalls or waves breaking, can lull listeners to sleep as well as block out any outside noise. You might want to give your teen a gift of a soothing CD you like—she might even try it. A number of years ago I gave my eldest daughter Yanni’s In My Time and she still uses it to relax and wind down. Like TV, video games can be a way for teens to relax. But like TV, they can also be extraordinarily engaging and problematic. If your teen is an avid game player, encourage her to play the current favorites in the afternoon, as a way to take a break after school is over and before activities, dinner, and homework begin. Also encourage your teen not to play video or computer games after 10:00 at night—the excitement of trying to beat the clock or conquer the enemy or make it to the next level can make it hard for teens to stop playing, and the stimulating activity and fast-moving graphics can make it hard to fall asleep when the game is over. As an alternative to playing video games and watching TV, suggest that your teen take up a more calming activity that sparks her interest—something that will still be enjoyable yet soothe the psyche rather than rev it up. The last hour of the day could be spent on a favorite craft or hobby, such as jewelry making, tying flies, or drawing; reading a book or a magazine for pleasure; writing in a diary or journal; playing a quiet online game such as chess or solitaire; listening to

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits music (at a low level); or playing an instrument. My oldest daughter likes to collect thoughtful and insightful sayings and adages and rewrite them into a journal. See if there’s an activity your teen would like to pursue that will bring a feeling of peace and serenity and help her wind down. It could be the time many teens crave for solitude, privacy, and self-expression. Strategy 3: Encourage Healthy Eating Habits What you eat and when you eat it can have a big influence on both your ability to fall asleep and how well you sleep. The following tips will help your teen chalk up a greater amount of high-quality sleep: Talk with your teen about the influence food has on sleep. Tell your teen that big meals close to bedtime require digestive processes that can keep her awake. Aid your teen in eating earlier by changing the household dinner hour if necessary; if dinner is usually eaten later than 7:00, work on moving it up. (Eating earlier in the evening will be good for you, too, since you absorb fewer fats from an early meal; that’s because, unless you’re a complete couch potato, you’ll generally do some physical activity after dinner.) Encourage your teen to help out with dinner by making a salad or setting the table. Not only will it get her involved with what’s eaten, but it may earn her points for something for which she’s politicking! Talk with your teen about avoiding sleep-preventing caffeinated foods and drinks after 4:00 p.m. This includes chocolate, both as a food group and hot cocoa; green and black teas and, of course, regular coffee; and sodas. Tell your teen that sugar also gives some people a “sugar rush” and keeps them awake. Before lights out, drinking a cup of warm herbal tea or warm milk (without the chocolate) can help teens wind down. If your teen is trying to lose weight, remind her that skipping dinner is not the solution. If you don’t eat dinner, you’ll feel hungry all night and your brain will keep you awake to eat. Then not only won’t you sleep, but you’ll be more likely to eat junk food late at night and take in more calories than you would have if you’d eaten a normal dinner. If your teen is hungry before turning in, advise a light snack of

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits A TEEN’S TAKE “I usually snack a little about half an hour before I go to bed. Ice cream is my favorite snack, but most often I have herbal tea, which I find very soothing. If I didn’t eat enough for dinner, I can wake up during the night hungry and have to go down to the kitchen for some carbs. That’s a hassle, so I try to get enough in before I go to sleep.” yogurt, trail mix (without chocolate), fruit, cheese and crackers, or a protein power bar. This kind of snack will stave off hunger through the night and is light enough not to interfere with sleep (a heavy snack at bedtime will keep you up as your body digests it). Encourage your teen to get to know her body and to avoid eating the foods that will prevent sleep. A trip to the grocery store will help her identify good things to eat and figure out which brands and flavors of foods, including protein bars, are best. Remind your teen to respect her body and to put only good things into it. Junk food is OK occasionally if it’s balanced by something healthy. I usually advise teenage patients and their parents that if they want the ice cream they should have it, but first they should have a turkey sandwich or some form of protein—something low fat that’s good for them. Strategy 4: Establish Successful Bedtime and Wake-Up Routines The more rested you are, the more capable you are of facing that early-morning alarm, not to mention the rest of the day. To help teens maximize their sleep time and function at their best, take a look at these helpful hints: The best sleep comes from following a regular sleep-wake routine. Work with your teen to establish realistic weekday bed and wake-up times that won’t vary by more than two hours on the weekends. By getting her input, rather than setting up rules yourself, it’s much more likely she’ll buy into the plan. Talk with your teen about ways to reduce the time she needs to get out the door in the morning so she can get a few more precious minutes of sleep. This can include:

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits Showering before bed instead of in the morning Making the all-important clothes choices the night before, so there’s no need to make decisions (or change her mind three times) in the morning Making certain the night before that all the clothes— including socks or stockings and underwear—that are needed are available or will be available; if clothes are in the to-be-washed or to-be-ironed pile, teens can negotiate with their parents to do it for them—or choose something else Organizing all accessories ahead of time Making lunch together the night before; a list of easy-to-assemble foods your teen likes will help ensure they’re in the fridge and make it easy to put something together in a hurry Setting all needed books, papers, and homework where they won’t be forgotten and can be grabbed easily in the morning LOSE THE SNOOZE BUTTON Though many people think that using the snooze button on their alarm clock gives them a few extra minutes of rest, it actually reduces the quality of their sleep. Hitting the snooze button every few minutes just interrupts the sleep cycle again and again, keeping you from waking up feeling refreshed. Setting the alarm for 10 or 15 minutes later than usual and getting right up when it goes off will provide 10 or 15 minutes of additional quality sleep. Encourage your teen to think up ways to recognize her achievement when bedtime and morning hassles are kept to a minimum. You can negotiate what will happen or what she will be given as a reward, but do acknowledge the effort when she gets her act together. Ask your teen to try keeping a diary in which she writes during the last hour before bed. Writing in a diary has two functions: It helps the winding-down process by providing an outlet for private self-expression and helps the teen feel organized and less stressed about the day ahead.

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits Teens can use their diaries to write short stories or poetry, about whatever is on their mind, about the guy or girl they’re thinking of dating, what ticks them off about someone, how they can talk to a friend about something important, random thoughts, hopes and dreams. They can even write about something they need to get off their chest but don’t want to say out loud; adolescents have a lot of drama in their lives but may find some issues hard to talk about. Writing about them instead gives them a way to get it all out. This “flushing to paper,” as I call it, is something just for the teen, with no one correcting the grammar and no one saying what’s right or wrong. Teens can also use their diaries in organizational ways, for example, to inventory their day to determine what still needs doing and to think ahead to the following day or days. They can review assignments, work out a schedule, note an upcoming orthodontist appointment or a friend’s birthday, and make plans for an upcoming activity. In this way the diary can act as a day planner as well as a creative outlet. Strategy 5: Control Light Exposure and Brain Cues Because light signals the brain that it’s daytime and therefore time to be up and around, it’s critical that teens be exposed to less light in the evening and a lot of light in the morning. To help make this happen: After 9:00 p.m., have your teen use a reading light or a clip-on book light to focus light instead of having it come from overhead and all around. Make sure that the bulb is the lowest wattage she can read by without straining her eyes. After 10:00 p.m., when schoolwork is done, have your teen wear sunglasses. Not only do teens think this is cool, but the lower light cues their brain that it’s getting darker out and time to wind down. Limit TV watching after 10:00 (or after 11:00 depending on your teen’s wake-up time), because the TV’s strobing lights promote wakefulness. The content is also designed to keep you engaged and prevent you from turning the TV off. If a neighbor’s outside light shines into your teen’s bedroom window, put up a black-out shade to help entrain your teen’s brain

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits to the sleep-wake timing that’s needed. Or have your teen try using eyeshades (earplugs may help, too, if a lot of noise comes in from outside). To help with the morning wake-up process, urge your teen to pull up the shades, turn on the lights in the bathroom, and let the light tell her brain that it’s the morning and time to wake up. All the lights don’t need to be turned on at the same time—that may be too traumatic—but by the time your teen has been up for 7 to10 minutes all the lights should be on. You might even want to encourage your teen to go outdoors if the sun is out, perhaps to bring in the newspaper or let out the dog. Encourage your teen to take some physical steps to aid the wake-up process, including washing her face with cool water and actually running to the kitchen for breakfast. Physical activity in combination with light exposure is a great morning cue to the brain to synchronize its circadian clock with the times you have determined are optimal. If waking up is particularly difficult, your teen might benefit from using a light box or wearing a light visor while getting ready for school in the morning. See the following chapter for more about light aids, where to find them, and how to use them. A TEEN’S TAKE ““I follow a regimen. On school nights I always lay out my clothes for the following day, so I can just get up and go. I also try to get up within the same 15-or 20-minute period in the morning. I don’t like to use the snooze button because it doesn’t go off again for 15 minutes, but sometimes I’ll reset the alarm for another five minutes. I also don’t like turning on too many lights too fast.” Strategy 6: Set Up a Realistic Homework Routine—and Eliminate All-Nighters One of the most challenging time-management tasks teens face every day is getting their homework done. Here are some tips to help them do it without doing themselves—or their families—in: Urge your teen to alternate exercise or break time with study

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits time: work for an hour and then take a 10- to 15-minute break. Shoot some hoops, stretch for a few minutes, check e-mail messages (but then sign off and go back to work), or eat an evening snack. Your teen’s brain will work better if it has a few minutes to rest and recuperate. With everything they have to do, teens need to plan ahead. If they have a paper due next week, they should outline it this week— staying up writing the whole paper the night before it’s due will produce a much poorer product. On the other hand, if they outline a paper and then work on it again a day or two later, their REM sleep will help them organize it and they’ll have more and better ideas. An outline will also make the writing go faster and will give students another section to work on if they get hung up on one part. MAKING A PLAN A day planner is a great tool for busy, involved teens. Teens can go the lowtech route with a small, inexpensive paper planner—one that can fit easily in a pocket, purse, or backpack and is available in most drugstores, office supply centers, or their school—or take the high-tech route with a PalmPilot or other electronic organizer. After each class teens can write in their assignment, when it’s due, and any materials they’ll need to complete it. They can also jot down extracurricular particulars if they’d like. For teens, as for many adults, it’s hard to think ahead two or three weeks when the current day is completely packed and all-involving. By writing down what’s needed and when, they’re less likely to wait until the last minute, waste time, or forget what they have to accomplish. Having all their to-dos written down also should reduce stress. Encourage your teen not to be fooled by a night with little homework. Putting it off can lead to a really late bedtime, but getting it over with right away will give them a night in which to relax a bit. Discuss with your teen how to structure homework time around things she wants to do. If the choice is to watch a particular TV show at 9:00, it’s important to get the bulk of the homework done

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits beforehand. If it’s to practice lacrosse plays right after dinner, at least one homework project should be done before going outside. Urge your teen not to cram for exams or quizzes. For example, instead of waiting to learn all the vocabulary words in one night, she should go over them for a few minutes every night as part of daily studying. This approach will produce much greater comprehension than if your teen waits to learn all the words at once. Encourage your teen to do homework in a comfortable spot where there won’t be any interruptions by siblings, parents, the phone, or e-mail. Before homework begins, ask your teen to let friends know that she is signing off for an hour or more for homework and won’t be available. Ask your teen to read the statistics detailed in Chapter 4. They should reinforce your counsel that all-nighters should be a thing of the past. Last-minute studying puts teens at a disadvantage compared to students who give information the sleep time it needs to be incorporated and refined in their brains. Strategy 7: Reduce Stress There’s no doubt about it—school is exhausting. Not to mention the sports, activities, homework, after-school jobs, family time, and responsibilities that are also part of a teen’s day. To help your teen cope with all there is to do, suggest some of the following stress reducers as a way to cope, wind down, and rejuvenate: Teens should reward themselves for surviving another school day by doing something relaxing for at least half an hour when they get home. They can nap if they must, but they shouldn’t sleep for more than 30 minutes (see more on napping below). Instead, they should try: Listening to music or watching TV (they can tape a favorite show that’s on at night and watch it after school) Eating a delicious—and healthy—snack (a bit of junk food is OK if it’s accompanied by something nutritious) Getting some exercise if they haven’t already had sports

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits Teens should be careful about calling friends and “ragging” about something or someone. The more they dwell on an issue, the more time they’ll waste on it and the more wound up they’ll get. Encourage your teen not to call someone up and take her on for something that happened that day. Waiting a day to bring it up will give your teen time and a good night’s sleep, which will provide a better perspective on the problem. Urge your teen to ask for help to sort out difficult issues. Friends may want to be supportive, but taking a friend’s side may not always allow them to give the best advice. A good rule of thumb is that if something bugs you for more than two days, then it’s time to find someone outside your usual group to talk with about it. Encourage your teen to pick someone she respects: a parent, relative, minister or rabbi, neighbor, teacher, or therapist. Teens will benefit from planning their homework for the week; it’s often necessary to start big projects earlier than they think they should. By pacing themselves and distributing their workload throughout the week, they’ll do better work and be less stressed. And if a teacher springs another project on them in the middle of the week, they won’t get completely crazy but will be able to get it done. It’s important for teens not to sit around for hours moaning One Teen Says … “I keep a pen and paper by the side of my bed. If I think of something I need to do the next day while I’m trying to fall asleep, and start worrying that I won’t remember it in the morning, I write it down as a reminder. Once I’ve got it down, it’s off my mind.”

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits about all they have to do; an incredible amount of time can be lost in worrying and complaining. Urge your teen to get in gear and just do it. In fact, encourage her to do the most difficult project first and the easy stuff closest to bedtime. The quality of homework is directly related to how rested teens are when they do it and to whether or not they’ve done it in a rush. If teens get the rest they need at night, they’ll be able to stay focused in class and do their homework much more easily. Teens will really benefit by writing in a journal or diary about anything that’s worrying them (see page 122 for more about diary writing) and perhaps work on a plan that will resolve the issue. They can also read something soothing or inspiring, such as Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul or some favorite poems. Talk with your teen about not taking on too much. There are only so many hours in a day, and some of them need to be unscheduled to have the opportunity to regroup and refresh. Strategy 8: Restrict Napping Sometimes sleep-deprived teens are just going to have to take a nap. When that time arrives, encourage your teen to follow these guidelines: Teens shouldn’t nap for more than 40 minutes (20 or 30 is better). Anything longer may let them cycle into deep slow wave sleep that will make it very hard for them to wake up. When they do wake up, they may actually feel worse than they did before the nap— sluggish, disoriented, and very cranky. Teens shouldn’t nap late in the day; the later they nap, the harder it will be to fall asleep at night. If your teen knows she is going to need a nap to get through all the homework, the nap should take place as early as possible after school. Any nap should be over no later than 6:00 p.m. Teens should set up a mechanism for waking themselves after a short nap. If an alarm clock is too brutal, they should enlist a parent or sibling to get them up. But if they wake up cranky, they need to promise they won’t take it out on the person who woke them. If possible, it’s a great idea to take a brisk walk or do something active to break out of a post-nap fog.

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits One Teen Says … “I’m often rather pooped when I come home from school, which can vary from 4 to 7. Once I came home from school and was so exhausted that I decided to take a nap. I went up to my bed and fell asleep around 4:30. Well, it was winter and it got dark fairly early. After sleeping like a rock, I woke up in my dark room and saw that it was dark outside. Because I always get up before the sun comes up, when I looked at my clock and saw it was 6:55 I freaked out—my bus comes at 7:05! Feeling like I was having a heart attack, I jumped out of bed and ran down to the kitchen in a panic—and smelled broccoli. Now, my mom has cooked some pretty strange things, but we have never had broccoli for breakfast. After looking around I finally pieced it together. My mom was cooking dinner, and it was 7:00 p.m. My heart kept pounding and I felt like such an idiot.” Teens who feel so tired that they want to nap every day are not getting enough sleep at night and need to adjust their bedtime to get at least another half hour of sleep. If possible, teens should substitute a relaxing activity for a nap. Strategy 9: Increase Exercise Exercise is not only a great stress reducer; it also keeps you fit, helps you look good, makes you feel good about yourself, and makes it easier to fall asleep. If your teen is not participating in a sport, encourage her to work an exercise routine into two or more days of the week. Talk with your teen about an exercise or a sport that she might like. It could be running, using a stationary bike or cycling outdoors, working out on a cross-trainer or with free weights, or any of the following possibilities: Working out to an exercise video—there are videos targeted to both men and women—or to a TV exercise program that was taped Using relatively inexpensive but effective equipment at home, including weights, jump ropes, and chin-up bars

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits One Teen Says … “My night-owl schedule used to be so bad that I would stay up late, wake up early for school, feel tired all day, then take a nap when I got home. Because of the nap I couldn’t fall asleep at a decent hour at night and kept repeating the same thing over and over. The cycle was very hard to break.” Encourage your teen to exercise after school or early in the evening. Being physically active too close to bedtime can result in revving you up instead of helping you wind down. However, a few minutes of easy stretching or yoga exercises right before bed can help promote relaxation and sleep. SNOOZE NEWS The National Sleep Foundation reminds teens who find it hard to work an exercise routine into their day that they can exercise while doing something else. For example, they can walk on a treadmill while reading or listening to music or do situps and lift free weights while watching TV. Strategy 10: Recognize and Stop Enabling Poor Sleep Habits If your teen is falling off the sleepiness scale, a careful evaluation of her schedule will help make the need for sleep more clear. The following suggestions will then help to make more and better sleep a reality: Have your teen keep a sleep log—a record of daily bed and wake-up times (see below for the one my patients use)—for a week or two, including at least two weekends. (Research shows that teens ideally need between eight and a half and nine and a half hours of sleep per night, and the log will show how greatly your teen is sleep

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits deprived.) After reviewing the log, have your teen make some lists: one list of the things she likes to do, with a star next to the ones there’s no time for; a list of her academic goals, with the time that needs to be spent on each one each week; and a list of personal physical fitness goals (weight loss, amount to be able to press, time to run a mile, etc.). As part of the list making, ask your teen to spend some time thinking about what really makes her happy. Then have your teen take a careful look at the current sleep-wake schedule and consider her after-school routine. Next, have her start improving the schedule by making adjustments, including: Defining a time she will be in bed with the lights out Taking the TV out of the bedroom Picking a time to sign off the computer and load the CD or MP3 player with her favorite soothing music Organizing her homework routine and planning breaks to do some of the things on the list of favorite things to do Rewarding herself with some exercise time Encouraging you and your spouse to serve dinner earlier and to buy healthy snacks to help control her eating habits Personalizing her room so that it promotes relaxation Choosing a study nook for doing homework uninterrupted Deciding to get more sleep Avoiding late-night encounters with parents that might provoke arguments; for example, resolving to ask for permission to go to a concert early in the evening so there’s time to work out a solution and cool off if needed before bedtime Managing her own sleep-wake schedule to show growing maturity and to keep the peace in the household

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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits Teen sleep log illustrating typical pattern of shortened sleep time during the school week with later bed time and catch-up sleep on weekends. My sleep log, adapted for adolescents from one designed by Arthur Spielman, Ph.D., a behavioral specialist and coauthor of The Insomnia Answer, can be extremely helpful when you’re trying to get a handle on the amount of sleep your teen is really getting. Ask your teen to fill the log out in the morning using the symbols at the bottom of the form; you or your teen can add more symbols if you like—for example, for exercise or drinking caffeinated beverages. An open circle should note the time your teen gets in bed; a closed circle and a line should indicate the time she falls asleep. The line should be broken with a space if your teen wakes up during the night.

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