FOMO is real when it comes to late-night texting and gaming, but kids are also losing important sleep. Here’s how to get them to bed on time again.
Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night as their brain and body move through the final stages of development into adulthood. Yet most are not getting nearly enough. According to the CDC, more than half of tweens and more than 70 percent of teens do not get enough sleep on school nights, and devices aren’t helping. Late-night texting, gaming, and scrolling keep teens’ brains wired. And studies show that the blue light from devices can suppress melatonin production, the hormone that supports sleep, keeping kids awake long after screens are off. Help your kids get more Zzzzs this National Sleep Awareness Month (and beyond) with these 10 tips:
1. Set some ground rules. Make it clear to your kids that devices are not allowed after a certain time of night. A family device contract can help you commit to a regular time without having to ask them to power down every night.
2. Use parental controls. No need to nag them to turn off their phones, there’s an app for that! Consider using a parental control app, like Circle, which offers a Bedtime feature. This control automatically turns off devices at a scheduled time so you don’t have to remind kids each and every night.
3. Back up your rules with research. Talk to your tween honestly about why you’re limiting night-time screen usage. Share well-vetted articles, studies, or documentaries with your kids that show how night-time screen usage affects our sleep patterns and mental health. The documentary Screenagers: Next Chapter is a great conversation starter as it spotlights real teens struggling with depression and anxiety directly related to their screen usage.
4. Emphasize the bed in the bedroom. Limit opportunities for your teen to drag a device into their room. Designate an area outside your teen’s bedroom for homework, and if possible, online video gaming. If they get into the habit of doing device-related activities outside their bedroom, they will be less likely to associate their room with nighttime texting, posting, and gaming.
5. Charge all devices in a central location. Dedicate a space in your house where all devices live at night (including yours!). Your teen’s bedroom will be free of the annoying blinking, beeping, and buzzing notifications that can disrupt sleep. And they will wake up, well-rested, to a fully charged device.
6. Set a good example. Make your own bedroom technology-free. Don’t go to sleep with your phone on your bedside table, but instead place it in your home’s dedicated charging station. Bonus: you’ll reconnect with your partner in more meaningful ways.
7. Don’t fall for the alarm clock excuse. Teens might complain that they need their phones to wake up in the morning. Introduce them to a good-old-fashioned alarm clock, which can be inexpensive. Your teen may love the retro vibe too. Wink-wink.
8. Employ the one-hour rule. Have your teens turn in their devices one hour before going to sleep. This might be a hard sell at first, especially if your teen stays up late doing homework that most likely requires a device. But if you are consistent with this routine, it will become a habit that they will thank you for later.
9. Change the nighttime routine. One hour before lights out, encourage activity that doesn’t include screens, including the television. You can read together as a family. Or do a puzzle. Maybe try some relaxation exercises, like some light yoga or deep breathing exercises. This will not just distract from devices but help improve sleep.
10. Go old school. We tend to rely on our phones for everything now: reading, relaxing, listening to music. Make sure your teen has alternatives to their phone for doing the activities they might do that hour before going to sleep. Check out a library book or invest in a CD player or noise machine for listening to calming music or sounds.
Learn how Circle’s Bedtime feature can help the whole family get better Zzzzs.