As a parent of an adolescent, you know that maintaining a healthy sleep schedule is often difficult for teens. When your teen has struggled with substance abuse and mental health, their sleep schedule can be less than healthy. However, immediately out of treatment, your adolescent needs to maintain a consistent schedule and structure in their life. This includes maintaining a healthy sleep schedule. As a parent, you can help them to create a sound sleep schedule that works for them at home. This might mean helping them stick with their schedule and adjust it as needed.
Value of a Sleep Schedule Immediately Out of Treatment
When your teen returns from treatment, they will be coming from a highly structured environment. Maintaining some of this structure while allowing them to have the freedom to find their way to an optimal sleep schedule can help. According to research, consistently good sleep can help to prevent relapse. Additionally, it can improve your teen’s mental health and ability to learn new skills as they make necessary changes after treatment.
Helping Your Teen Build a Healthy Sleep Schedule
A healthy sleep routine for your teen will be unique to them. However, having a schedule means planning out when they will go to bed and wake up most days. Theoretically, this is not complicated. However, to be consistent with their schedule, your teen will likely need to create a bedtime routine, a set lights-out time, and manage electronic use before going to bed.
Having a routine before bedtime is an important aspect of maintaining structure in relation to your teen’s sleep. A bedtime routine can be unique to your child. However, it often includes activities that help them to wind down. One way to think of it is that they are preparing their body and mind to be able to fall asleep when they plan to.
An example of a bedtime routine would be something like this:
- 8:30 PM: Turn off the TV, computer, or video games
- Between 8:30 PM and 9:30 PM: Relaxing activity like reading, stretching, or listening to music
- 9:30 PM: Brush teeth, get ready for bed, and prepare for the next day
- 10:00 PM: Lights off and go to sleep
It is important to note that the timing and activities can change over time. For example, you and your teen can work together to find the amount of relaxation time that is helpful for them to be able to fall asleep at an ideal time.
Having a set lights-out time is important. It provides a very clear structure for when your teen needs to have their bedtime routine complete and be in bed. This structure needs to be rigid. While this can be difficult, your teen must have a structure that helps them to get a healthy amount of sleep rather than pushing their lights-out time back further and further.
As a parent, you know that the use of electronics by teens has become more and more standard – including devices like cell phones, tablets, computers, and TVs. However, using electronics before bed can greatly impact your teen’s sleep. Research has found that bedtime and middle-of-the-night electronic use decreases both sleep quality and quantity in adolescents. Therefore, creating a structure around electronic use near bedtime is essential.
When your teen has just arrived home after treatment, they may be more prepared to decrease their electronic use before bedtime. This is due to the structure that exists in treatment. However, technology can be incredibly hard for your teen to pull themselves away from. As a parent, you can help create structure at home while educating your teen on the benefits of less technology use near bedtime.
Learning to Stick With a Sleep Schedule
Sticking with a sleep schedule will probably be difficult for your teen. However, with your help, they can learn to maintain a consistent one. After you and your teen find a schedule that works well for them, it is time to practice being consistent with it. As your teen becomes more used to the structure, they may find parts of it that are better than others. You can support your teen by encouraging them to make changes to their sleep schedule as needed.
The goal of a sleep schedule is for it to become a habit; however, habit-building takes time. While your teen is in the process of creating this routine, it is often helpful for you to be more involved with the structure of their schedule. This might look like helping set up reminders or helping them to allocate their time to make sure they have done all of their homework before bed. Regardless of the specifics, as a parent, you can help your teen stick to a schedule that supports their health through sleep.
It is common for adolescents to struggle with maintaining a healthy sleep schedule. However, for teens directly out of treatment, quality sleep is very valuable. Here at Sustain Recovery, we understand that healing does not end with treatment. We believe that parents are in a unique role to support their teens to make adjustments that help them heal from trauma and addiction while improving their mental health. We offer multiple levels of care that combine holistic care with evidence-based clinical interventions. If your teen is struggling and in need of help, we can help them learn skills for a successful recovery. To learn more, call us today at (949) 407-9052.