Ahhhh bed. Don’t you just love it? Seriously, the sooner it becomes socially acceptable to go about daily life wrapped in a duvet, the better. In fact, screw it, let’s go big: the sooner beds are installed in all public spaces, the better. So we can all just crawl in and cosy up whenever the need takes us.

But even though we’re all on the same page about the general awesomeness of beds, it seems we’re not that great at actually using them for their intended purpose (steady on, we’re talking about sleep). In fact, according to sleep experts, teenagers are getting less shut-eye than ever before. And apparently that’s not good. At all.

Obvs sleep gives you the energy to do all the stuff you want to do – acing your favourite subjects, socialising, hobbies (and yes, window shopping for eight hours straight on a Saturday counts as a hobby). But sleep time is also when your brain recovers from all of the rewiring it’s doing. And man is it doing a WHOLE lot of that during your teens. Lack of sleep has also been linked to all kinds of nasties like anxiety, heart disease and burnout. And last year, a report from the Royal Society for Public Health found that getting into good sleep habits when you’re young can help you avoid loads of health problems as an adult. So yeah. It’s kind of a big deal.

The NHS says 14-16 year olds need nine hours of sleep, which seems totally impossible when group chats are still pinging away into the early hours. But it can be done. And it will feel sooooo good.

Here’s a little guide on how you get the best night’s sleep of your life.

Healthy day, sleepy night 

Annoyingly for the lazy folk / pizza-and-coke-lovers among us, sleep is likely to come more easily if you’re living a healthy lifestyle. That means exercising regularly (not too close to bedtime though, as that can keep you awake), and steering clear of caffeine and sugary stuff, at least towards the end of the day. Yep, it doesn’t sound like the greatest fun. But it’ll be so worth it for that blissful night of snoozing.

Aaaaannnd… relax 

Give yourself time to properly wind down before bed so that, when your head hits the pillow, your brain has stopped whizzing. Aim to finish any homework an hour or two before bed, disconnect from social media (We know: GAH! But you’ll thank us for it, promise), and do something relaxing like having a warm bath or reading. If you still can’t stop your mind racing, write a list of everything that’s worrying you. Getting it down on paper can often stop it rattling round your brain.

Time your munchies 

You don’t want to go to bed hungry (no one’s gonna sleep when they’re visualising chocolate cookies) or too full (when your body’s too busy digesting to relax), so have your last food and drink around two hours before bedtime. There are certain snacks that are great for making you sleepy – bananas, turkey, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and beans are just a few. We’d have them with a mug of warm milk (another classic sleep-inducer) laced with honey, which contains a chemical that makes you less alert. Thanks, nature.

Create the ultimate sleep den

Your bedroom should be somewhere that your body associates, above all else, with sleep and relaxation. So give it a tidy (yes, buying cute storage solutions is totally justified), put your homework out of sight and add some cosy touches (cushions, blankets, candles, YES PLEASE). A colder room will also encourage your body to release melatonin (one of your sleep hormones), so the Sleep Council recommends keeping your bedroom between 16 and 18°C.

Develop a routine 

Remember when you were a kid and had a checklist of stuff to do before bed? PJs, teeth, face, last wee, storytime, sleep? Well your parentals knew what they were doing. Having the same routine each night sends signals to your body that it’s nearly time to sleep. Your list might be more grown-up these days – PJs, teeth, luxury skincare regime, feminist podcast, sleep – but it should work just as well as when you were a littl’un. Try to keep your bedtime and your morning alarm at the same times, too. It helps keep your body clock in line so you’ll feel naturally sleepy when you’re supposed to.

Stop with the screens 

Sorry guys, but screens screw with your sleep. I’m afraid it’s now recognised by actual science (dammit). Obviously there’s the fact that what’s on the screen (Snapchat stalking your crush, cat YouTube vids) is way more interesting than going to sleep. But they also give off blue light which messes with your melatonin, meaning you sleep later and less deeply. Even weirder, though, is that the mere presence of a device in your room actually disrupts sleep. New research has found that we’re so wired to be ‘always on’ that our brains are stimulated by devices even when we’re not using them. Whaaaaaaat? So, if you want the best night’s sleep ever, charge your phone on the landing.

Don’t force it

Tossing and turning in bed can actually make getting to sleep harder. Anyone else start obsessively calculating and recalculating how much sleep they’ll still get if they can fall asleep RIGHT NOW? How about now? Noooow? If you’re not asleep after 20 minutes, experts recommend getting up and doing a peaceful activity, like gentle yoga. When you feel sleepy again, get back into bed. Over time, your body should learn that bed means sleep, and you’ll doze off quicker when you get under the covers.

Mmmmm, covers. Happy snoozing, everyone.

@LucindaEverett

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Manjit Thapp

There’s tired. There’s ‘just so tired’. And then there is limb-achingly, head-swimmingly, deliriously tired; the kind of tired you only experience after spending all night on homework/revision/text to a potential bae. It’s a tiredness that knows no end; that refuses to be beaten by tea or coffee even if they were being fed via IV into your bloodstream. 

So how do you cope when you feel this way? Here are a few theories, none of which involve caffeine. Obviously if you love your morning flat white, be our guest, but tread carefully with coffee, Coke or rocket fuel energy drinks like Red Bull – too much caffeine can have unpredictable effects on people, and too much caffeine is as likely to make you queasy as psyched.

Instead, look at your day. Break it down into the most bitesize of chunks, and consume accordingly, with scheduled breaks and something sweet to look forward to. Because tiredness is a state of body – but it’s also a state of mind.

1. Splash your face with cold water

And no, I don’t just mean in the morning. I mean whenever you feel the weight of sleep slowly, gently crushing your eyelids into submission. I mean every hour, if you have to – and if you want an extra boost, moisturise and mascara yourself too, or get a hydrating facial mist like this one from Superdrug. The cold will wake you; the stimulation of drying your face on a towel will get your blood going; and the mascara will both stop you from rubbing your eyes (the telltale sign of the sleep deprived) and make you feel more normal. Because whatever ‘normal’ is, it’s not face-planting your desk.

2. Eat a banana

I once met a women who ran marathons, two businesses and a family of four children. Her secret weapon? Bananas. “They are the ultimate energy boost,” she explained. They come ready packaged. They pack a punch full of sugar – fruit sugar, that is – and plenty of other nutritional good guys too, like potassium, riboflavin and vitamins B6 and C. We’re not entirely sure what they do exactly, but science tells us it’s beneficial, and my body agrees.

3. Go for a run

Failing that, go for a walk. Failing THAT, jump up and down outside for a few minutes. I know it’s cold, but that’s one incentive to move. The second incentive – if I may be so bold – is to increase your blood flow, which gets the blood into your brain and your thoughts into action. The third incentive is that it boosts your mood, your appetite, and gives you that gentle pull-yourself-together slap that only bitter, damp February air really can.

4. Get changed

Say what you like, there is something about a fresh pair of pants that makes even the weariest of days feel less weary. Even the starchy, white-whites smell of washing powder has an uplifting effect. Just as getting ready to go out can put you in the mood even when you least feel like leaving the house, so going through the motions of getting ready can perk you up. Even if it’s just changing your hoodie so you can sit back down at your desk and carry on revising.

5. Dress smart

The old saying ‘dress smart, think smart’ isn’t just a cunning ploy by adults to get you our of your trackies; it’s true, at least for many of us. Studies have suggested that for people who have to wear a uniform to work, putting it on has a positive effect on their concentration levels. You don’t have to wear your lab coat to write that biology essay (though it can’t hurt, if you feel like it) but a changing out of that jumper you spilled ketchup down yesterday might just help.

6. Let there be light

The brighter it is, the more alert you’ll feel too. Sure we might all look better in low lighting – that’s why candles are so popular – but if this essay/revision sheet/workbook is ever going to get finished, you’re going to need the lights a-blazing. And if it’s still daylight, work by an (open, preferably) window.

7. Sniff something

Not that we’re suggesting you become an amateur aromatherapist, but a quick whiff of citrus, vanilla or mint can be pretty effective at stimulating your senses – and your brain with them. No need to buy the oils (although they’re not too spendy in Holland and Barrett) – a nice fat grapefruit, vanilla stick or a handful of fresh mint leaves will suffice! Or failing that, body spray. But stop before you get a headache, you should know that by now.

8. Have a nap

Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just the only thing to be done. Sweet dreams.

@finney_clare 

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

School’s out! A fortnight of festive freedom! Think of all the things you will DO – the people you could see, the places you could go, the ambitious but satisfying projects you could undertake, the hours you could spend doing something wholesome and outdoorsy, like carol singing or tobogganing or skating on a frozen lake (because obviously your imaginary Christmas holiday takes place in a movie adaptation of a Dickens novel).

You could do all those things, but obviously you won’t. Because you’ll be asleep.

Mmmm, sleep. The greatest gift of all.’Tis the season for a lie-in, fa la la la la, la la zz zzzzzz. After you’ve spent the whole year getting up at basically the crack of dawn to achieve all that stuff you’ve achieved, and staying up late to keep up your social media presence in case people start to worry you’ve been kidnapped, all you really want for Christmas is a big, giant nap.

And here’s the good news: you deserve one. You need one, in fact. No matter how much your parents mutter about ‘lazy teenagers’, tut when you emerge at lunchtime in your pyjamas or nag you to get up and go for a 10-mile Boxing Day walk with them before handwriting 20 thank-you letters to your relatives. The truth is that in your teen years, a good night’s sleep becomes more important than ever before… but, and here’s the unfair bit, it’s also harder to actually get.

How many Zs are we talking?

Studies have suggested that between the ages of 10 and 20, we should be clocking up at least nine hours’ sleep a night. That’s an hour or two more than your parents need, and six hours more than Margaret Thatcher supposedly used to get (which explains some things). But even more interestingly, the pattern of sleep gets thrown off during adolescence – typically meaning that teen brains want to go to sleep later, but also sleep for longer in the morning. Sound familiar? Turns out it isn’t your habit of falling into a YouTube rabbit hole at midnight that’s to blame; it’s your BRAIN. And your habit of falling into a YouTube rabbit hole at midnight. A bit.

Mm sure, but why?

Science is helpfully vague on that question. “There must be an evolutionary reason why this happens,” says Neil Stanley, a sleep researcher at the University of East Anglia, who thinks that the culprit could be – what else? – hormones. “If sleep is important for memory and learning, and dealing with emotions, and repair and recuperation, then teenage years have an awful lot of that,” he told the BBC

During puberty your circadian rhythms (the ones that control sleeping and waking) are ‘reset’, a bit like turning a phone off and on again. Except that your phone usually wakes up faster and more alert, whereas you end up wanting to crawl into a burrow and hibernate until adulthood.

So how do I catch more than 40 winks?

You probably know plenty of the tricks – hot drinks before bed, a relaxing bath, switching off your devices early and banishing them from your bedroom (here’s our handy video) – but do you actually do them?

Thought not. Well, that’s a good place to start. Especially the devices one, which we KNOW is about as appealing as sleeping without oxygen in the room…. but all that scrolling can send your mind into overdrive when it should be winding down. Plus a recent study found that the blue light your phone gives off can mess up your natural sleep cycle, by suppressing the sleepy hormone melatonin and ‘fooling’ the brain into thinking it is daytime. Old-style alarm clocks might be due a revival, guys.

There are also bigger plans afoot in society to help teens get the start they really need, including recent recommendations that high schools should start and finish later, so everyone can have a good lie-in without feeling guilty about it. Some early research has suggested that later starts not only help you get more sleep, but also help reduce feelings of depression and irritability. So an extra hour’s kip might be good for more than just staying awake during Monday morning double maths.

Yawn. Are you finished yet?

Almost. While schools catch up and (hopefully) change their timetables, you can look after yourself by making sure you get as much sleep as you can, when you can. And if anyone tries to call you lazy, show them this article.

Although you really should write your thank-you letters. Sorry.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin

1. I wish I was asleep.

2. If I fall asleep now, I will get seven and a half hours’ sleep.

3. I have never been this tired in my whole life.

4. Actually, no one in the history of the world has ever been this tired.

5. Apart from Obama. But he is the only exception.

6. Oh and Beyonce. Honestly, where does she get her energy from?!

7. Somewhere fancy, probably. Designer energy!

8. Ok I’m going to count sheep. That’s a thing, right?

9. I wonder why it’s sheep?

10. Are sheep notoriously good sleepers?

11. Why isn’t it sloths?

12. Or pandas?

13. Or tortoises?

14. Or my brother?

15. I wonder if he’s asleep, maybe he wants to watch an episode of Stranger Things with me.

16. No. I was sleeping.

17. Or, trying to sleep.

18. If I fall asleep now, I will get seven hours and 13 minutes’ sleep.

19. What about milk? Warm milk is totally a thing.

20. But then I have to get out bed, which will probably make me even more awake.

21. And it’s warm and cosy in here.

22. Is it weird that we drink another animal’s milk?

23. It is weird. Maybe I’ll start drinking soy.

24. But it’s an extra 50p to get a soy hot chocolate, which seems excessive.

25. Money is weird. Like, the metal of the coin isn’t worth 50p, but we perceive that it’s worth 50p.

26. What if we just all decided it was now worth 60p? Can we do that?

27. Maybe I should start a petition for it on change.org

28. Maybe it will make up for the fact I am going to fail my Citizenship test in the morning.

29. If I fall asleep now, I will get six hours and 42 minutes’ sleep.

30. I know! I’ll listen to a soundtrack of the ocean. Oceans are relaxing.

31. Excellent, Spotify even has a playlist of ocean sounds.

32. This is totally working. I feel relaxed and warm.

33. ………

34. ………

35. Oh for god’s sake, now I need to pee.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Manjit Thapp