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Getting enough sleep

A tired teenager.

What’s up with sleep? It may seem like a waste of time when you’ve got so much going on. But sleep can help you do better in school, stress less, and generally be more pleasant to have around. Sound good? Now consider some possible effects of not getting enough sleep:

  • Feeling angry or depressed
  • Having trouble learning, remembering, and thinking clearly
  • Having more accidents, including when driving or using machines
  • Getting sick more often
  • Feeling less motivated
  • Possibly gaining weight
  • Having lower self-esteem

Tips for better sleep

an alarm clock

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day — even on the weekends!

a set of dumbbells

Exercise regularly. Don’t exercise at the expense of sleep, though.


Don’t eat a lot close to bedtime. Food can give you a burst of energy.

a lightbulb

Avoid bright lights right before bed, including the ones that come from the TV or the computer. Sleep in a dark room. Darkness tells your body it’s time for sleep.

a thermostat

Sleep in a slightly cool room. If you can’t control the temperature, try using fewer blankets or dressing lightly.

a carton of milk

Follow a bedtime routine. If you do the same things each night before bed, your body will know it’s time for sleep. Take a warm bath or shower. Or drink a glass of milk.

a sunWake up to bright light. Light tells your body it’s time to get up.
a pillow

Listen to your body. If you’re feeling tired, go to sleep. If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed, get up and do something else until you feel sleepy.

a cup of coffee

Avoid caffeine. That means cutting back on coffee, soda, chocolate, and energy drinks — or at least trying not to have any in the afternoon.

Three Zs

Don’t nap for longer than an hour or take naps too close to bedtime.

a stack of books

Don’t stay up all night studying. Try doing some each night instead. If you pull an all-nighter, you may be too tired to do well on your test.

a notepad and a pen

Set aside time to relax for about an hour before bed. If your tasks have you worried, write them down to get them off your mind.

a tablet

Remove computers, phones, and other gadgets. Put your cell phone out of your room so you won’t be tempted to use it, and so texts and calls won’t wake you.

If these tips don’t help, tell your parents or guardians. You also might talk to your doctor or nurse.

How much is enough?

Experts say most teens need a little more than nine hours of sleep each night. Only a tiny number get that much, though. Here are some ways to see if you are getting enough sleep:

  • Do you have trouble getting up in the morning?
  • Do you have trouble focusing?
  • Do you sometimes fall asleep during class?

If you answered yes to these questions, try using the tips above for getting better sleep.

Also keep in mind that good sleep isn’t just about the number of hours you’re in bed. If you wake up a lot in the night, snore, or have headaches, you may not be getting enough quality sleep to keep you fresh and healthy.


Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated May 27, 2014