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What interventions are available for sleep problems?

In the next couple of Steps, we’ll highlight a range of techniques that can help to improve sleep.

Sleep hygiene

It’s important to establish a good routine and habits around sleeping and bed time. One key recommendation is to make sure that a young person’s bedroom is associated with sleeping and not with being awake and active. This might mean changing some arrangements in the home. Here are some suggestions which you may useful:

-Tell your young person not to worry about sleeping well. They must accept that at the moment it is not good, but you both have lots of ideas for improvements.
- Help your young person to cut down on soft drinks, chocolate, coffee and tea. These contain 
large amounts of caffeine making it harder to sleep. Try avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evenings altogether.
- Beds are for sleeping. Make sure your young person has a desk or table to do homework at. If in another room, even better.
- Encourage your teenager to watch films, check social media and so on somewhere other than bed.
- Discuss and negotiate use of electronics at night. Try to come up with a period of time before bed (eg 30 minutes) when electronics are not used. Ideally put all screens in a different room for bedtime.
- Set up a relaxing bedtime routine. Make this a quiet time for winding down. This might include baths, reading, lower lights, comfortable pyjamas.
- If your teenager doesn't fall asleep and is tossing and turning, they should get out of bed, and go to a different room. They should distract themselves with a quiet activity e.g. reading, then go back to bed. If they do not fall asleep in 15 minutes, they should get up again. 
- Set an alarm. Help your teenager to get up. They are likely to be resistant and irritable, but they will probably need your (gentle) help – be patient!
- In the morning, draw back the curtains and let as much natural light in as you can. Daylight 
stimulates melatonin (a hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles) and helps to reset internal clock. Encourage your teenager to spend time in daylight.
- Encourage your teenager to take exercise, walk and be active. This will encourage night time sleepiness.

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People

University of Reading