Sleep is an important part of staying healthy – both your body and mind need enough sleep to feel good and perform well. When you are sleeping your mind and body are growing and developing. And if you’ve been sick, sleep is part of getting better.
But how much sleep do you really need? Experts say about 9-10 hours of sleep per night. (If you have been sick or are really stressed, you might need more!)
There are many reasons why we sometimes have trouble sleeping. Here are a few:
- worrying about something
- being hungry
- drinking colas (or anything with caffeine)
- School problems
- friend problems
- problems in your family
- staying up late with activities (e.g. video games or TV
- having pains or feeling sick
- fears (e.g. being alone or being afraid of the dark)
- if you have a phone – keeping it on
- bad dreams or fears of having bad dreams
- other (write down your other concern)
Are there ways you can change some of the reasons you might be having trouble sleeping?
You can also use the Sleep Diary to keep track!
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep!
Make a routine – a routine is a set of actions that you do regularly like getting ready for bed pretty much the same way every night.
Here are some bedtime routines that might help get your body and mind ready for bed:
- Take a warm bath or shower and get into your sleepwear.
- Have a healthy snack before bed. Try to avoid snacks that are very sugary and anything with caffeine (especially cola).
- Do a pre-bedtime activity that is calming and quiet. Try to avoid playing video games, which usually are not very relaxing.
- Try reading a book, or listening to some soothing music at bedtime.
Do relaxing exercises – doing something relaxing can help get your mind and body ready for sleep too. Try taking some deep breaths with your eyes closed. Focus on a calm picture or place you find peaceful – maybe a beach or favourite part of your yard or house.
Count – some find counting backwards from 100 helps the mind turn off thoughts – especially if your thoughts are the worrying kind! Worrying doesn’t help you sleep so try to avoid spending too much time thinking about things that bother you. It can help if you decide to think about the worry the next day and focus on going to sleep for now.
Write it down – sometimes it helps to write a worry down on paper, then put it away for the night. This can help focus on getting the sleep needed, rather than worrying too much.
Tell somebody – if you continue to have lots of trouble getting to sleep, tell someone you trust to help with this. Maybe your parent, grandparent, older brother or sister could help? You can also think of someone who has helped you before with a concern you had – and approach them for help. (See Asking for Help for more information).
Setting up for Sleep
The place where you sleep should be a retreat for you! Try to make it:
- Dark: Your room should be dark, cool, and quiet – the only exception to this is a dim nightlight
- Comfortable: Do you have a bed that’s big enough with warm sheets and blankets? If you share a room with a family member, try to get them to help you go to sleep by being quiet (not talking!) and by sharing the space fairly.
- Safe: If you have any worries about not being safe at night – you need to tell someone who can help with this. Usually that is whomever is in charge of the house – a parent, grandparent or older person who can help change the reasons why you might not feel safe. You might also need to tell another helping person such as your school counsellor, nurse, or social worker. The important thing is to get help with being safe!
Do you have something that helps you feel calm and relaxed? If so, try to have it near your bed. This can be a stuffed toy, a childhood blanket or a picture of someone who means a lot to you. It helps to feel safe and secure when favourite things are nearby.
Use our Sleep Diary if you need help in figuring out your sleep concerns.