Sleep - a guide for young people

Lots of young people find getting to sleep, staying asleep or waking up a real problem.

Disrupted, broken or insufficient sleep can really impact on our mood and ability to cope with daily life.

Here are some ‘Sleep & Wake-routine help points’ that young people, together with our staff, have put together to help you.

Sussex Partnership is aware of these outside organisations for additional help and support. These are not connected with Sussex Partnership and there is no guarantee that you will receive any benefit from these.

Top tips

  • Try to do some light physical exercise / activity during your day for 30-45mins. This can be walking a pet or going for a walk with family or friends. Doing this particularly in the morning helps with routine.
  • Have a regular night time routine; do things roughly in the same order at the same time each night to get your body and mind ready for sleep. Getting night clothes on, brushing teeth, switching off technology and having the same bed time. Do not change the time you go to sleep or wake up by more than half an hour at a time each day.
  •  Helpful possible routine for all to try at least 1 hour before bed:
    •  No screen device (phone, gadgets, TV/PC). See if this works for you
    • If not avoid blue-light late at night (turn on ‘Night mode’ or screen filters)
    • No activity increasing body temp e.g. exercise, shower or bath
    • Avoid full stomach or hunger, e.g. try not to have dinner immediately before you go to bed
    • Reduce sensory difficulties (if any), i.e. have a comfortable environment and limit external stimulation (input) if possible
    • Use dim light
    • Low volume and monotonic music (White noise, Shipping forecast)
    • Relaxing/Comfortable Story-telling (including audiobook, apps etc)
    • Set comfortable room temperature, i.e. turn the radiator up or down, open window, if you can (18C/65F ideal for bedroom at night).
  • Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine, sugary drinks or foods before bed. Technology like phones, tablets, and television are also stimulants.  Avoid or limit caffeine at least 6 hours before bed, as there is still lots of caffeine left in your body after this time, keeping you awake.
  • If struggling to sleep after being in bed for 30 minutes, get out of bed. Spend a short amount of time doing something calm e.g. activities (reading, listening to something ‘boring’, drawing on paper). Then try going back to bed again. 
  • Try and gain as much exposure to sunlight  in the morning (wearing suncream if outside in the summer) as possible: It is important on waking to gain exposure to sunlight as soon as you wake up for resetting your brain clock. Open your blinds or curtains to let light in. You can also explore sun light lamps / alarm clocks.
  • Create a calming and peaceful environment. Rooms that are dark and cool are best for sleep.
  • Avoid using your bed for studying, reading or listening to music. Your bedroom can be used for many purposed such as education, gaming, socialising. Keep your bed to be used for sleeping.
  • Make sure you’re as organised as you can be for the day ahead so that you are not worrying the night before or thinking about what you have to do or what you might need.

Sometimes people find it hard to sleep because they have many thoughts going around in their mind. We would recommend reading our advice on anxiety and depression on this website, for ideas and strategies to help you manage these thoughts.

Please don’t give up right away if you don’t see instant results. It might take a few weeks for your body to adapt to the changes. Please try these sleep techniques at least for 3-4 weeks to get the best outcome. Sleep, like any skill, takes practice.

Sleep loss can impact on concentration and your judgment, so if you are tired do not drive.