Super Sleep

Sleep is a critical component of dealing with stress. If teens are not getting enough sleep, the hard stuff is going to get a lot harder. Use the steps that follow to help teens understand their own sleep habits and learn ways to improve them.

What You Need

  • Electronic devices for each participant or one with a larger screen that can be seen by all
  • Internet connection
  • Copies of the Sleep Tracker

Step 1: Check In

Ask how many people posted a Chiller on social media or emailed one to someone after the last lesson? Talk about which ones they chose and why.

Step 2: Sleep—What’s the Big Deal?

Explain that sleep is a critical component of dealing with stress. If you’re not getting enough sleep the hard stuff is going to get a lot harder.

It’s fair to say that overall, teens in the U.S. are in the middle of a sleep crisis. For most, 9-10 hours a night is ideal. Today many teenagers are aren’t getting enough sleep to recharge their bodies. Many teens report being drowsy upon waking, tired during the day and wakeful at night.

But if teens are getting by this way, does it actually matter?

The answer is yes, it absolutely matters. Getting enough sleep has many benefits:

  • You’ll feel better physically and emotionally.
  • It makes you less likely to get sick.
  • It means you’ll be more likely to stay at a healthy weight because lack of sleep causes hormones that affect weight to become out of balance.
  • You’ll lower risk of getting high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • It boosts brainpower…you’ll be able to think more clearly at school or work and perform better on things that matter to you whether it’s school, arts, sports, or just life in general.
  • You’ll make better, more healthful decisions.

So what are some signs that you might be suffering from a lack of sleep:

  • Irritability
  • Difficultly making decisions
  • Decreases ability to concentrate
  • Lower hand-eye coordination
  • Increased illness (both mental and physical)

Some people think it’s okay to get just a few hours a night during the week and then make up for it on the weekends. However, sleep doesn’t work that way. Our bodies need regular, consistent rest and time to reset.

Getting enough sleep is easier said then done, right? Many teens find that the rest of the world doesn’t function on the same schedule their bodies do. That’s because biological changes during adolescence can make it difficult to fall asleep before 11:00 or so, which in turn means sleeping later in the morning.

Fortunately there are some things you can do to help improve your chances. A first step is to learn about your own sleep-related habits. Use the Sleep Tracker to figure out how much sleep you’re getting and what things you’re doing at night that might be helping or causing problems.

Distribute the Sleep Tracker handout or let them know they can use it online, and encourage them to track their sleep for one week to get a sense of how well and how much they are actually sleeping. Ask them to report back at your next session.

Sleep Tracker

Step 3: Head-to-Toe Relaxation

In “Try Meditation” scroll down and click on the “Head-to-Toe Relaxation” link and use the written version. We have found that reading it aloud works better with a group than playing the audio recording. When you’ve finished, ask the group these questions:

  • How do you feel?
  • What did you notice during this relaxation practice?
  • At what points during your day could you use a few minutes of relaxation? Do you think practicing using this method could help you do that?

Point out that doing this relaxation activity in bed at night can be a way to help you fall asleep.

Step 4: What’s Next

Point out that Changing to Chill is what’s known as a practice. It’s something you do regularly and learn about over time. No one ever just learns to chill once and then is done. Encourage teens to continue the practice that you’ve started today, choosing one activity or suggestion from the website that they are committed to trying or repeating in the next week. Close by asking for a few people to say which thing they are going to try.

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