Teen sleep issues: Top 5 tips from parents

Mother and son talking on bed PC

When it comes to helping teens with their sleep issues, who better to ask than parents who’ve been there? So, we put a call out to our community to get their top tips, advice and strategies.

We heard from parents whose teens' sleep issues stem from school and study stress, mental health difficulties, technology and screen use, through to cost-of-living concerns, bullying, neurodiverse disorders and friendship issues. Here’s what they had to say.

1. ‘Let your teen tell you about their worries, and really listen without dismissing their concerns.’ – Nick

More communication tips from parents:

  • Talk things out with patience and understanding, and without being judgemental.

  • Create a safe and nurturing environment for opening up.

  • Acknowledge their anxieties and what might be bothering them.

  • Chat about sleep when it’s not time to sleep!

  • Ask them if they’re having issues at school, work or anything else.

More from ReachOut: Ask questions that encourage your teen to talk.

2. ‘Pick the right time to challenge their sleep habits. It’s an ongoing conversation. Offer them help to change aspects of their routine.’ – Alison

More sleep hygiene tips from parents:

  • Encourage calming pre-bed activities such as reading, listening to music or audiobooks, light stretching, journalling and meditation.

  • Use lamps to reduce bright lighting before bedtime.

  • Let them decorate their own room so that it feels safe.

  • Support a consistent (and reasonably early) bedtime and morning routine.

  • Try a calming one-hour parent–teen activity before bedtime (e.g. light stretching, meditation, journalling or simple arts and crafts).

More from ReachOut: Practical strategies to improve your teen’s sleep.

3. “Monitor their use of technology and try to avoid them using their devices in the last hour before sleep.’ – Samar

More screen tips from parents:

  • Explain why using technology late at night can be a problem.

  • Encourage no devices in the bedroom (except maybe a speaker).

  • Consider putting a curfew on the wifi.

  • Create a screen schedule.

  • Try to limit social media use.

More from ReachOut: How to manage your family’s screen time.

4. ‘Have good habits yourself.’ – Rebecca

More ‘walk-the-talk’ tips from parents:

  • Counsel them gently and provide examples of being patient.

  • Be open about your own experiences and emotional problems.

  • Get to bed at a reasonable time, and get up at the same time.

  • It’s okay to admit to yourself when you’re tired, too.

  • Model the same things you are trying to teach them.

More from ReachOut: Parents as positive role models.

5. ‘Worry more about a good, nutritional dinner, rather than nagging them to go to sleep.’ - Susy

More healthy habits tips from parents:

  • Aim to put dinner on the table at least two hours before bedtime.

  • Encourage physical activity during the day.

  • Agree on rules for limiting energy drinks and coffee.

  • Encourage them to spend time outdoors and with the whole family.

  • Ensure they’re regularly doing things they enjoy.

More from ReachOut: Practical tips for your teenager’s wellbeing.

What do young people have to say?

It’s always helpful to hear from young people themselves. So we connected with Azhaan, Joe, Isabelle, Emma and Gabby to learn more about their relationship and experiences with sleep.

Find out how they manage their sleep issues, and what suggestions they have for other young people who might be facing similar challenges. You can read their stories here and share them with your teen.

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