We like to stereotype teenagers when it comes to their sleep habits and brush off the idea of a tired teen as typical laziness, especially when we see this stereotype frequently in the media. But, teen sleep problems are very real.
According to the CDC, 7 out of 10 teenagers don’t get enough sleep on school nights. It’s recommended that teens should sleep 8-10 hours each night, and when that doesn’t happen, it puts them at risk of both mental and physical health issues.
Yoga can provide a lifeline for teens who are struggling to get enough sleep. Unfortunately, yoga is often another thing that tends to be stereotyped and stigmatized, especially with younger audiences. Helping your teen understand the benefits of yoga and guiding them through it can make a difference in their sleep habits and their health.
On the surface, it’s not always easy for adults to understand why teenagers might struggle with sleep issues. You might think your teen’s life is easy. They have nothing to worry about after all compared to adults, so how could they possibly have insomnia? But, they have more on your plate than you might think.
The teenage years are a time of change. Teens have to worry about things like fitting in, forming new relationships while maintaining existing ones, doing well in school, and thinking about the future.
Teenagers also go through a lot of physical changes. Hormonal shifts and body changes that happen quickly can throw off a teen’s normal sleep cycle, disrupting their circadian rhythms and making it difficult to sleep at night.
Stress, anxiety, and worry can also impact a teenager’s sleep health — unfortunately, creating a vicious cycle. The more stressed and anxious your teen is, the less likely it is that they’ll get enough sleep. The less sleep they get, the more stressed they’ll be.
Mental health issues are a common cause of sleep disturbances — at any age. Again, things like anxiety can make it difficult to get the rest you need, and not getting enough sleep can make your anxiety worse.
There are many things you can encourage your teen to do to maintain and boost their mental well-being, including:
-Staying physically active;
-Eating a balanced diet;
-Confiding in people they trust.
Yoga combines several of those practices. It’s a physical activity that can actually be used as a good workout. It also promotes a sort of meditative state where you’re focused on your body and your breathing instead of focusing on anxious thoughts.
Evening yoga can help to calm your teen’s anxious mind, allowing them to release the racing thoughts keeping them from a good night’s sleep.
But, if you’re not familiar with yoga yourself, and you’re not sure how to show your teen what to do, consider directing them to online videos or downloading apps they can use to follow a yoga instructor online. There are specific yoga poses that can promote better sleep, like Child’s Pose, Cat-Cow Pose, and a Standing Forward Bend. By encouraging your teen to try these relaxing poses to calm their mind and body, they can climb into bed with a lower heart rate, deeper breaths, and a calmer mind.
If your teen is still struggling with insomnia, one of the best things you can do for them is to help them establish a sleep routine. Good sleep hygiene is essential for everyone, but it’s so easy to get into habits that do more harm to our sleep cycles than we realize. Teens are especially susceptible to those unhealthy habits. They feel like they’re invincible and think they can run on very little sleep. But, teenagers who don’t get enough sleep can start to experience things like:
-Drifting off or daydreaming;
Obviously, those issues can impact their social lives and school performance. Taking active steps to help them implement a sleep routine can make a big difference in how they feel and how well they get through their day-to-day activities.
Yoga could (and should) be a part of that routine. Other tips that can make it easier for your teen to sleep include going to bed at the same time each night, avoiding blue light devices (cell phones and tablets) for at least an hour before bed, and silencing their smartphones at night to avoid disruptions.
If your teen loves tech, encourage them to download apps that are designed to help with sleep, like Sleep Cycle, Headspace, or Slumber. Some of these apps can help your teen check out their sleep data each week, which can give more insight into why they might be struggling to get enough rest.
If you know your teenager isn’t getting enough sleep, take it seriously. Yoga could be exactly what they need to fight back against anxiety and stress, and to feel healthier, overall, so they can get the right amount of sleep every night.
By Katie Brenneman
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