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Pre-bedtime activities for young people

Many young people have challenges falling asleep in the evening due to a change in their circadian rhythm. The next difficulty is waking in the morning feeling alert, refreshed and ready for their school day.


Research has shown that melatonin (the hormone of darkness) is produced by the body later at night in teenagers, which is a reason why a lot of young people do not feel as tired as early as their parents do.

During the day a teenagers brain is very active, energised and is a hyper alert brain due to the amount of learning, schooling, homework, friendships, anxiety and worries. So switching off the brain at night can be difficult.

What can I do?

Introducing a winding down time at the same time every night sends powerful signals and cues to the brain to tell your mind it is time to rest.

An hour before bed, plan to do activities downstairs that use both your hands and eyes together to slow your heart rate, release the stresses of the day and help calm your brain in preparation for sleep.

Activities to do

Think about activities that you enjoy and find relaxing, revisit things that you used to like doing or try something new. These things may include:

  • model making
  • jewellery making
  • doodling or mindful colouring
  • painting nails
  • plaiting hair
  • planning outfits
  • face masks
  • reading (this could be an autobiography of their favourite footballer or YouTuber)
  • guided meditations (we encourage removing technology, however try audiobooks or guides that do not need a screen)
  • scrapbooking or cutting and sticking pictures of their favourite things, such as video game characters, photos from catalogues of fashion or their dream house
  • puzzles

Remind yourself that you have earned this wind-down time. Try to remember to:

  • give yourself a break from the bedroom and do activities downstairs
  • switch on ‘busy’ or ‘do not disturb’ on your phone and put on charge
  • avoid all activities that increase the heart rate, for example strenuous exercise, computer games and so on
  • activities should be for pleasure and not school-related or competitive games as these can raise stress, anxiety and worry
  • dimming the lights helps to produce the melatonin we need to make us sleepy
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Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

Resource number: SLP19

Resource Type: Article

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