This article on adolescents and sleep is part of a series on teenage nutrition. You can read the introduction to this series from these two articles “What Is On Your Family’s Breakfast Plate” and “Teenage Nutrition: Why You Should Pick This Battle For Your Adolescent.” We are very excited to bring you this and hope you feel comfortable to add your own thoughts, tips and suggestions.
Difficult To Get Your Teen To Fall Asleep At A Decent Hour?
You are in good company. Teenagers miss on average one hour a night to sleep. You would think teens would be tired the next night and go to bed earlier. But no, these self-proclaimed “night owls” really are that: our teens seem to come alive in the evening and have problems falling asleep at a decent hour. Puberty and its hormonal changes seems to have the main effect on teenage evening sleeplessness. From “The Truth About Tired Teens” comes this fact:
During puberty, the circadian rhythms — the cycle of changes the body undergoes in a 24-hour period — drastically change. This effects when teens get hungry, when they are most alert, when they want social contact, and the sleep/wake cycle. So even if teens go to bed earlier, they probably can’t go to sleep. This is why most teens are “night owls.”
Sleep deprivation in teenagers seems to have an effect on what they eat during the day, as seen in this previous article in this series on teenage nutrition. On the other hand, certain foods and drinks that teens consume just before bedtime can affect their sleepiness.
Teenagers should avoid these stimulating food and drinks at least two hours before bedtime
- Caffeine: coffee and coffee drinks such as frappuccino, black tea, ice tea, soda such as Mountain Dew and Coca Cola, diet sodas that are not caffeine free, foods containing caffeine such as coffee ice cream, tiramisu. Best is to check food and drink labels for caffeine.
- Chocolate: in chocolate bars, chocolate candy, chocolate milk and hot chocolate, chocolate cereal, chocolate granola bars, chocolate ice cream.
- Fruit juices and high sugared drinks: such as orange juice, nectars and drinks like Sunny Delight because of the high vitamin C and sugar, both of which can “wake up” the body.
- Large meals
Foods and drinks your teenager can enjoy that help bring on sleep
- Herbal Teas, especially tea containing chamomile and valerian.
- Milk and dairy products. An old-fashioned remedy for sleeplessness is warm milk and honey
- High tryptophan containing foods such as bananas and cooked oatmeal. Attention tryptophan foods take about one hour after eating to have an effect on our sleep.
Avoid eating a large dinner or a big meal too close to bedtime is another way to keep your teen’s digestion on a good rhythm. The culture here is France means we eat a late supper. Although our supper is a light meal, my daughter says that eating late makes her feel wide awake and thus hard to calm down to sleep. So we are trying to eat earlier. Do you have an eating schedule at your house that keeps everyone calm until bedtime? Is there a certain drink or food in your country or culture that helps your teenager to slow down and fall asleep? The French drink a lot of herbal teas in the evening. I also drink herbal teas before sleeping because I feel they help the transition to a restful sleep. The old-fashioned way here is for the French to infuse (let sit) a bunch of herbs in near boiling water on the stove for about 10 minutes. Drain and serve as an infusion herb tea. I prefer the easier route using tea bags, and suggest some of these herbal teas for your teenager to enjoy: