Sleep is really important as it’s when your body does all its growing and helps you recharge for the next day. Teens typically need about 8-10 hours of sleep per night, but it is common for the average teen to get 7 hours or less per night. It’s also important that you get GOOD sleep as sleeping badly will affect your mood, making it difficult to concentrate and probably making you very grumpy!

    The Sleep Cycle

    When you sleep you go through different cycles of sleep, and each of these does a different job! We go through two different types of sleep cycle during the night, these are called:

    • REM – Rapid Eye Movement
    • NREM – Non Rapid Eye Movement

    People will spend different amounts of time in these cycles but as an average adults sleep will be 25% REM (Rapid eye movement sleep). It starts about 90 minutes after falling asleep and reoccurs about every 90 minutes, getting longer later in the night.

    NREM (non- rapid eye movement sleep) makes up 75% of your sleep time and has four stages which each have a job to do to keep you healthy and strong. Babies and young children will spend longer in REM sleep, up to 50% of their sleeping time.

    Both of these are important for both your physical and emotional health.

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    Positives of Good Sleep

    • Sleeps helps us feel energised and more ready to cope with the day.
    • Having good sleep helps you to be able to concentrate at school.
    • Sleep is essential for growth and brain development.
    • Good sleep will increase your memory.
    • Having good sleep boosts your mental wellbeing.
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    Negatives of not such good sleep

    • Bad or not enough sleep for a long time can weaken your immune system, so you’re less able to fight off bugs!
    • The thinking and decision making part of your brain is particularly sensitive to bad sleep or not enough sleep.
    • Not getting enough sleep can make you irritable and moody and can make it easier to get frustrated. This could also have an impact on friendships or relationships at home.
    • School work may seem harder and your results may be affected.
    • Poor sleep can lead to having slower reaction times affecting your ability to play some sports e.g. ability to catch a ball. Sleep helps us feel energised and more ready to cope with the day.

    What can make it difficult to fall asleep?

    • If it’s noisy.
    • If you’re hungry or thirsty.
    • If you’re feeling too hot or too cold.
    • Feeling stressed or worried about something. Sometimes these feelings can be worse at night when we are trying to go to sleep.
    • Bright screen lights can stop the production of the sleep hormone Melatonin, stopping you from feeling tired.

    Top Tips.

    Top Tips

    Limit screens in the bedroom (including your phone!) one hour before bed – Instead of screens you could try reading a book before bed!


    Cut out caffeine

    Avoid having any food or drinks that contain caffeine at least four hours before bed. These include tea, coffee, cola and chocolate.


    Create a sleep friendly bedroom

    Try to make your room dark, cool, quiet and comfortable to help you fall asleep.


    Have a bath!

    You could have a bath before bed to help you relax. 


    Try some relaxation techniques

    Such as breathing techniques to help you relax before bedtime.


    Put any worries to one side

    During the day, speak to someone you trust about any worries you have.


    Jot them down!

    If you have worries at bedtime write them down and put them to one side, try not to think things over before bed.



    Regular exercise helps you sleep more soundly, as well as improving your general health. You should be aiming for at least 60 minutes of exercise every day!


    The stages of REM sleep.

    REM Sleep
    • 25% of sleep time.

    • Provides energy to brain and body.
    • Supports daytime performance.
    • Brain is active and dreams occur.
    • Eyes dart back and forth.
    • Body becomes immobile and relaxed as muscles are turned off.
    Stage 1 - REM Sleep

    Stage 1 – between being awake and being asleep.

    Stage 2 - NREM Sleep

    Stage 2 – becoming disengaged from surrounding, breathing and heart rate regular, body temperature drops.

    Stage 3 - NREM Sleep

    Stage 3 – blood supply to muscles increases, tissue growth and repair occurs, energy is restored, hormones are released (such as growth hormone).

    Stage 4 - NREM Sleep

    Stage 4 – blood pressure drops, breathing becomes slower, muscles are relaxed.

    Written by: Natasha Dawe

    Specialist School Nurse, Epsom

    Written by: Emma Godsmark

    Specialist School Nurse, Guildford