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3rd April 2018
Anthia Koullouros

A blog post by our Naturopath Rachel Weaver

Moody, irritable and tired?  Turn devices OFF before bed.

Sleep is an absolute necessity for optimal health.

When kids become teenagers, they start getting tired later at night.  Research shows that, for optimal health, children aged 6–12 years should regularly sleep 9–12 hours and teens aged 13–18 years should sleep 8–10 hours per 24 hours!

Unfortunately, most teens do not get the sleep they need.

You know how you feel if you’ve been up late watching ‘just one more’ episode of whatever your current favourite episode on Netflix is?  It feels good at the time but then the following morning you don’t feel so refreshed.  It’s the same for teens.

The age of technology is amazing but also can have negative effects in a lot of ways.  Let’s leave for now the way content on devices can affect our sense of wellbeing and just talk about the light that hand held devices emit.

The light from devices is “short-wavelength-enriched.” This means that it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light.  Research has found that blue light affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelength.

Melatonin is a hormone controlled by your body clock, that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain.  Levels vary in 24 hour cycles and usually go up at night due to a reduction in bright light.

Exposure to light can disrupt the natural body clock which can have devastating health effects.  Your body clock controls wakefulness and also individual clocks that dictate function in the body’s organs.

Insufficient sleep among children and adolescents is associated with an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, attention and behaviour problems, and poor academic performance

Other factors interfere with their ability to get enough sleep – maybe you can help.

Schedule.   After school activities on top of increasing levels of homework can make a day very long.  If the average teen gets tired around 11 pm and has to get up between 6 and 7am to get to school on time it impossible to get 9 hours of sleep. The later they get home and the harder it is to wind down.  Busy parents often find that they themselves are stretched for time so the older child has to learn to be more independent and responsible for themselves.

Homework. Sacrificing sleep can jeopardise the ability to focus and concentrate in school.  Grades can suffer when their minds are fuzzy and they feel fatigued from too little sleep.  Coupled with a nutrient deficient breakfast, this can be a recipe for disaster in the class room.

Texting. Switching off devices at an agreed time can enhance relaxation and sleep. Many teens (and people in general) are almost programmed into Teens may think every text message has to be answered right away, no matter how late. Even early evening texts can disrupt sleep. Hearing constant text alerts can make it impossible to wind down and relax into sleep.


  1. Get kids outside during day
  2. Reduce bright lights in the evening
  3. Eat dinner earlier in the evening & discourage late night snacks
  4. Set bed time
  5. Make the bedrooms device free
  6. Limit caffeine
  7. Apply this to yourself so you’re getting enough sleep too!