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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 you want — and need — to do. 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
  • Getting sick more often
  • Feeling less motivated
  • Possibly gaining weight
  • Having lower self-esteem

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. Are you one of the lucky few who can manage with less? Or are you slipping up on sleep? Here are some ways to see if you’re getting enough:

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

If you have answered yes to these questions, check out the tips below for getting better sleep.

Tips for better sleep

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day — even on the weekends!
  • Exercise regularly. Try to finish exercising at least five to six hours before bedtime.
  • Don’t eat a lot close to bedtime. Food can give you a burst of energy.
  • 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.
  • Sleep in a slightly cool room. If you can't control the temperature, try using fewer blankets or dressing lightly.
  • 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.
  • Wake up to bright light. Light tells your body it’s time to get up.
  • 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.
  • Avoid caffeine. That means cutting back on coffee, soda, chocolate, and energy drinks — or at least trying not to have any late in the day.
  • Don’t nap for longer than 30 minutes or take naps too close to bedtime.
  • Don’t stay up all night studying. Try doing a little each night instead. If you pull an all-nighter, you may be too tired to do well on your test.
  • Set aside time to relax for about an hour before bed. Turn off your cell phone and your computer! If your tasks have you worried, write them down to get them off your mind.

If these tips don’t help, you could talk to your doctor or nurse. 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 October 13, 2010
Page last updated October 31, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.