It's a never-ending battle...or so it seems. Teens these days are under tremendous amounts of pressure with school and sports and life in general. It seems like though they need more sleep than ever, they have less and less of it, often to their detriment. And they don't love it when we try to help them have better sleep habits. Here are some ways, though, to help build good teen sleep habits for your kids--ones that make life happier for everyone.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the average teen needs 9-9.5 hours of sleep a night. Meanwhile...the average teenager actually gets about 7-7.5 hours of that sleep, and many parents say that's on a really, really good night.

And it's hard for us mamas to really help them; they're becoming young adults and their independence is growing. They want to be in charge of their bodies and they have lots and lots of distractions. Some--like school, sports and other extracurricular activities--are the norm for most teens. And, for most teens, so are other distractions that come with technology, social media and their peer groups.

Our teens have WAY more homework and activities (even in pandemic times) than we did at their age, and the access to non-stop socializing via social media means that they exercise less, get less fresh air and sunlight and way less sleep.

Not to mention, their internal biorhythms and move their bedtimes later and later, but they're still needing to get up at sometimes the crack of dawn. Anxiety is high, depression is higher, diet and the weirdest times they've ever lived all add to non-restorative sleep, even when they DO get some.

The truth is, it's more important than ever to help our teens build good sleep habits.

Step One: Realize Sleep Is Important

We adults have (even though it's not great for us) figure out how to function whether we get sleep or not. It's just life sometimes. But, the truth is...though they're maturing and seeming more like adults than ever, they're not. And they still need us to help set up boundaries and guide them to help them be their best. Talk with your teens about the importance of sleep and share their needs and the science with them. Involve them in making good and healthy decisions for themselves so they'll do so when you're not around to help.

You may have pushback.
Okay, you'll likely have pushback.
But hold your ground, mama. Sleep is important and there's tons of stuff out there about the ills of blue light (speaking of, are you wearing blue-light blockers as you read this?), endless games, poor neurological wiring due to social media likes and addiction to back you up on how sleep needs to be a priority.

According to the Sleep Foundation,
Sleep benefits the brain and promotes attention, memory, and analytical thought. It makes thinking sharper, recognizing the most important information to consolidate learning. Sleep also facilitates expansive thinking2 that can spur creativity3. Whether it’s studying for a test, learning an instrument, or acquiring job skills, sleep is essential for teens4.

Given the importance of sleep for brain function, it’s easy to see why teens who don’t get enough sleep tend to suffer from excessive drowsiness and lack of attention5 that can harm their academic performance.

Step Two: Don't Let Technology Take Its Toll

This is so important: Take the tech away. Yes, it may be needed for a school assignment, but set up the time you're turning it off each night and be sure that they know when that is. Help them work around that schedule to use it when they need it, and be FIRM about tech in their rooms after your set time. We know televisions in bedrooms aren't conducive to good sleep; the same can be said for tech and our teens.

Stay firm. Set the boundaries. The National Sleep Foundation suggests no tech for at least 30 minutes before bed. The better your teen adheres to this, the better they'll sleep.

Step Three: Prioritize Fresh Air, Sunshine and Exercise

When your kids have full days full of fresh air, exercise and sunshine, their bodies naturally tire and prepare for restorative sleep.Sometimes with teens, it's hard to do this, but the bottom line often comes back to tech. Set boundaries not just for tech at night but during the day as well--when they're spending free time in dark rooms playing video games instead of outside with some sun, their bodies are not getting the best they can. Even if they're using 'screen time' that's allotted, encourage equal (or more!) amounts of outside time as well.

Consider These Tips:

Help them build a good sleep schedule and then encourage them to stick with it even on weekends. Take the time to work together to create the right sleeping environment with comfortable bedding and room temperature. Share the benefits of a nice Epsom salt bath or shower as part of the wind-down routine and some calm music or meditation/prayer before bed.

Discourage caffeine as much as possible. Sure, it's a teen thing to want to hang at the local coffee shop because coffee makes them feel 'mature' they're still developing and maturing, less caffeine helps them overall, but certainly removes stimulated nighttime obstacles.