AnxietyBC launches content to its youth webpages and popular MindShift App. “Making Sleep Count” is the non-profit organization’s newest enhanced content.
The resources include informative facts, behaviors that help with sleep, things that interfere with sleep, and ideas for helpful self-talk around slumber. Along with the sleep-related tools, AnxietyBC has also added “Riding Out Intense Emotions” to help youth who are struggling with overwhelming emotions and unproductive or unhealthy ways of coping.
“Going back to school may trigger overwhelming emotions such as anxiety, in some youth,” says Judith Law, executive director of AnxietyBC, in a release. “Sleep deprivation may be a symptom of these anxious emotions and the resulting worry about not sleeping then fuels further anxiety. You can end up in a vicious cycle that leaves the young person feeling tired but wired.”
Studies have shown that adolescents have a different internal clock than adults, which means they stay awake later and wake up later. Youth require 9 to 9-and-a-half hours of sleep a night for optimal memory, concentration, energy levels, and healthy stress management, but many don’t get the recommended hours. “Unfortunately, many of the things youth do to compensate for not getting the sleep they need, such as drinking coffee or energy drinks, and taking naps, actually interfere with sleeping patterns,” says Law.
In language geared to youth, the site and app discuss behaviors that interfere with sleep, such not sticking to a routine, drinking alcohol or smoking, and even fretting about not sleeping. Of particular importance in our digital age is setting the stage by turning off all electronics a half-hour before bed and using our bed for sleeping only.
For youth who can’t sleep, AnxietyBC recommends utilizing some helpful self-talk or getting up and doing something relaxing, such as listening to soothing music, instead of staying in bed and worrying. “The message is to not get overly worried about not sleeping,” says Law. “Helpful self-talk might be to remind yourself that if I don’t sleep well tonight, I’ll most likely sleep well tomorrow. It’s normal not to sleep well all the time.”
AnxietyBC’s online strategies have been developed to give them tools they can use to help themselves to “ride out” or “dial down” anxiety and to adopt healthy habits for better sleep.