As we’ve seen in this blog series, there are lots of different things you can do to look after your mental health, from exercise to being creative. This week’s blog is a little different, as we’ll be exploring something that we all need and do – sleep!

A lot of us struggle with sleep, whether that is feeling constantly tired, sleeping too much or not getting enough sleep. Although there’s a stereotype of teenagers sleeping too much, some research has shown that around half of teenagers could actually be sleep deprived, with 20% of them falling asleep in class each fortnight.

Are you getting enough sleep?

The NHS recommends that children and teenagers need an average of 9-11 hours of sleep each night, with the amount needed slowly decreasing as we get older. Getting the right amount of sleep should help you to get up feeling alert and refreshed, but all too often, this isn’t happening for young people.

How is sleep changing for teens today?

We know that teenagers today have a lot more access to technology than they have in the past. Increasing numbers of teens in developed countries are playing on their own smartphones well into the night. Not only does this keep teens’ brains active when they need to be resting, as the blue light from these devices suppresses the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, but it can also increase stress levels. Whilst social media can be a very supportive place, it can also put self-esteem and anxiety at risk. The possibility of seeing negative messages before bed can create extra worries for teens which keep them awake.

As well as issues with social media, teens face increasing pressure to achieve in school, which can lead to stress and anxiety keeping them awake at night. Many teens study in their rooms, which can make relaxing at the end of the day difficult.

So what can I do to improve my sleep?

Here at Get My Grades, we’ve researched sleep tips so you don’t have to. Here are our top 5 tips for getting a better night’s sleep, and improving your sleep health long term:

  1. Try to keep your bedroom only for relaxing. This means studying in another room, or at a library if possible. If it’s not possible, avoid studying on your bed. This will help your brain to ‘switch off’ from study mode and relax, making it easier to fall asleep.
  2. Keep a little book/notepad by your bed. If there are things keeping you awake, jotting them down can help. They may be things that are worrying you, or simply things you want to remember to do the next day.
  3. Minimise gadget use before bed, by as much as possible. This can be harder said than done, but doing it gradually can help. First, try not using gadgets 10 minutes before you go to bed and slowly increase the time. Charging your phone away from your bed can help with temptations to check it. Most smartphones, tablets, laptops or computers these days also have a ‘Night Shift’ option, to reduce the levels of blue light produced by them.
  4. Avoid caffeine. This can be hard if you’re used to drinking caffeine, as it can become a vicious cycle – being tired means you might drink caffeine, which can keep you awake and increase tiredness. As with your gadgets, try lowering the amount slowly, trying not to have caffeine after a set time and moving this back gradually.
  5. If your studies are worrying you, setting yourself realistic goals and timetables can help. Many people find cramming for exams very stressful, building knowledge over time can ease this. Studying with Get My Grades helps you to grow your knowledge over time, shows you where your strengths and weaknesses lie and also helps you to stay in touch with your teachers so you can be sure to get any extra help you need. Knowing that you’re on top of your studies, and being able to see your progress clearly can help to reduce your worry about exams, and help you to get a better night’s sleep.

Next week marks the last in this series for now. We’ll be exploring the importance of organising your time, for everything from time with family and friends, to studying, to hobbies.