Getting the right amount of sleep at night is important for all sorts of reasons. But don’t just take our word for it, the crucial factor in developing a positive sleep routine is that you feel motivated and see a personal benefit to doing so.
Read on to find out some of the key positive impacts of getting a good night’s sleep to help kick start your motivation:
- Improved Memory: A process called consolidation, which occurs whilst you’re asleep, helps to strengthen memories and consolidate skills learned while you were awake. Whether you’re learning a new language, sport or subject in school, sleep plays a vital part in speeding up that learning process.
- Boost Creativity: As well as consolidating and strengthening memories, a good night’s sleep can allow your brain to re-structure and essentially make sense of ideas, problems and new concepts you might have learned during the day. This can help us to wake up feeling more creative and better able to take on anything that might have been causing us confusion the day before.
- Improve Athletic Ability: Studies have found that a variety of sports people can improve their athletic performance and increase stamina by getting a good night’s sleep every night.
- Improved Attention: Some studies have shown that young people who don’t get enough sleep at night on a recurring basis may achieve lower grades and a decreased ability to concentrate and learn in school or college. On the plus side, those who have a positive sleeping pattern should experience improved attention and ability to learn new information.
- Reduced Stress: Sleep and stress levels are really closely linked, and whilst a lack of sleep can cause increased stress levels the good news is that the equation works the other way – therefore the more sleep you get (preferably between 8-10 hours a night) the lower your stress levels could become. Sleep also helps to improve emotional stability which can in turn help to stave off depression.
- Better Skin: Not only does a reduction of the hormone cortisol help improve our stress levels. It can also have the knock on effect of improving our skin health and such conditions as acne, psoriasis and eczema.
- Stronger Immune System: Getting a good night’s sleep won’t prevent you from ever getting ill, but it’ll certainly help. Regularly lacking in sleep can cause your immune system to become suppressed, which makes you more likely to catch infections such as cold and flu.
|Do separate your bedroom from your work space. As a general rule it is best to restrict your bedroom to sleeping only. When you live in a busy household your bedroom can be a nice quiet haven to get work done in, but this can make it much harder to switch off and forget about work when it does come to bedtime.
|Don’t drink caffeinated drinks less than 6 hours before going to bed. Caffeine found in such drinks as tea, coffee, green tea and energy drinks is a stimulant. This means it causes us to feel more alert, awake and sometimes even jittery than we would normally and if it doesn’t have time to flush out of our body before bedtime it will make it much harder to get a good night’s sleep.
|Do Try using guided relaxations and breathing techniques to help you get to sleep. You can find loads of these on YouTube and there are also a number of apps that can help support a good night’s sleep. So long as you listen to the content and don’t look at the bright screen you’re all good.
|Don’t use electrical devices with back-lit screens before bed. This is because the “blue” light emitted by devices such as smart phones, MP3 players, Kindles and computers supresses our melatonin levels (the sleep hormone) meaning we feel less sleepy at bed time, get a poorer quality of sleep when we do nod off, and may wake up feeling sleepier and less motivated to get up.
|Do nap strategically – whilst a short nap (no longer than 20 minutes) in the early afternoon can boost our energy levels to get through the afternoon, sleeping for long chunks in the daytime, or getting too much sleep (over 8-10 hours a night) can mess with our natural circadian rhythms and make it much harder for us to get to sleep at night time.
|Don’t keep your mobile phone by your bed. Not only is the blue light alerting, but the sound of message alerts going off and the temptation to look at them can cause continued distraction just as we’re about to drop off. If you use your phone as an alarm clock consider in investing in a separate alarm (preferably one without a lit up screen) to ensure you wake up on time.
|Do avoid too much background noise. However, some people find that a bit of background sound or white noise (such as the TV, radio or an electric fan) can drown out other noises that can be more distracting. However leaving the TV, radio etc. on all night can interrupt our deeper sleep cycles, so if you can it’s best to set a timer to make sure such devices switch off once you’re asleep.
|Don’t underestimate the importance of a stable sleep/wake routine. Having a good routine around when you wake up and go to sleep can really help your body prepare for both events. This will ensure you are much more likely to be able to fall asleep quickly and peacefully, and feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning.
Sleep is way more than just something boring we have to do at night because there’s nothing else going on. It’s an important occupation and has as much of an impact on our mental and physical health as the things we do when we’re awake. However, there’s a lot of advice out there around what we should and shouldn’t do to get a good night’s sleep and it can be difficult to know what to listen to and what to ignore. So we’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts specifically for teenagers to help aid a restful slumber – But remember nobody’s perfect and there’s isn’t one winning formula to nailing your night time routine. Just keep experimenting and you’ll be sure to experience the benefits sooner or later:Schools employ a range of people to look after your wellbeing. Some of the titles of these staff may vary in your school but you will be able to find out about them from a teacher.
Most schools have a nurse who either have a drop-in clinic or appointments you can make to see them. They can provide information about mental health and emotional wellbeing, and can help you access further support if this is needed. http://cchp.nhs.uk/cchp/explore-cchp/school-health-nursing
Off the Record: free and confidential one-to-one and group mental health support for 11-18 year olds, in schools and community settings. Young people can sign up online or find out more via the HUBS – otrbristol.org.uk, call 0808 808 9120 between 2 and 5pm.
GP – you can make an appointment to visit your doctor or a nurse at the surgery to talk about any worries or concerns you have. Call your GP surgery to speak to the receptionist or go there in person. The receptionist will probably ask you who the appointment is for and why; this is to make sure that you see the right person at the right time. You don’t have to tell them why – you can just say it’s for something personal if you like.
If you think you’ll might have difficulty discussing your mental health with your GP, you can find advice about how to prepare How to Talk to Your GP About Mental Health
CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) – these are community teams that help children and young people with serious emotional, behavioural and mental health difficulties. These services are normally accessed via GP or school; for more information go to cchp.nhs.uk.
South Gloucestershire Talking Therapies: free support for people aged 16 and over – https://iapt-sglos.awp.nhs.uk/, 0117 378 4270. This is the gateway to a range of therapeutic interventions in line with people’s differing emotional needs. Give them a call, or you can self-refer via the website by either completing a registration form or by booking directly on to one of the introductory level psycho-educational courses.
Young people’s drug & alcohol service: free support and advice – call 01454 866000 or email email@example.com. They’re here to help you if you feel that you need to make some changes; you may have concerns about your health, it may be affecting your relationships, costing too much or you may feel you are missing out on doing other things. They are a confidential service based within South Gloucestershire for young people that can offer the support that best fits your needs; someone to talk to, advice and information on reducing harm and on-going sessions to explore the things you’re struggling with.
Network Counselling: for ages 11 and up – all 01179507271 or visit network.org.uk (contribution required).
The Bridge Foundation: individual and family counselling – call 0117 9424510 or visit bridgefoundation.org.uk (charges apply).
Sleep tips for teenagers – NHS choices nhs.uk/Livewell/Childrenssleep/Pages/teensleeptips.aspx
The South Gloucestershire Sleep Toolkit – Adolescence: This toolkit provides guidance and support for young people and will develop awareness of the importance of sleep and offer information, advice and guidance to prevent sleep issues occurring. It will also include tips on how to manage sleep issues that often arise.
ChildLine: free helpline for children and young people to talk about any problem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – 0800 1111 childline.org.uk.
The Mix: telephone and email support for under 25’s – freephone 0808 808 4994 (1pm-11pm) ,Crisis Messenger 85258, themix.org.uk.
Samaritans: if something is troubling you – call 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get self-help: free online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) resources – getselfhelp.co.uk.
Reading Well; Shelf help: a list of recommended books to help young people deal with a range of issues, available in all libraries. https://reading-well.org.uk/books/books-on-prescription/young-people-mental-health