False. Teens actually need 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night yet most teens barely get 7 or 8! A lack of sleep seriously impacts our mood and our ability to think and learn! We are more cranky and frustrated plus it’s harder to pay attention in school. You will feel better if you get more sleep, so try to make getting enough sleep a priority!
2) Exercising before bed is a good way to unwind and improves your quality of sleep.
False. Exercising 2 to 4 hours before bed will actually interfere with your sleep cycles and make it harder to sleep. Fortunately, exercise in general is actually good for sleeping. Just make sure it’s well before bedtime. Aim for 30 minutes a day of activity (such as fast walking, dancing, biking, playing sports, or active games on your Wii, Xbox, or other game console). Exercise increases endorphins, which are our bodies’ natural feel-good chemicals. So get moving (just not too close to bedtime)!
3) If you are having difficulties sleeping in the middle of the night, get out of bed and do something.
True. Although it might seem strange, the best way to fall asleep if you are having difficulty sleeping is to get up and do something boring (like reading a part of the newspaper that doesn’t really interest you) or relaxing (like listening to relaxing music). Try going back to bed after 15 or 20 minutes or when you start feeling sleepy. You may have to repeat this a few times some nights. Lying in bed worrying will just make it harder to fall asleep, so come up with some of your own ideas for boring or relaxing activities that you can do instead.
4) The weekends are a good time to catch up on some ZZZs – sleep in as much as you can on Saturday and Sundays.
False. Although trying to catch up on missed sleep on weekends and holidays seems like a good idea, your body actually prefers a regular sleep cycle. You will sleep better overall if you try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day (give or take an hour) – even on weekends.
5) Pot relaxes you, so it is good for treating anxiety.
False. If you are a person who tends to be anxious, doing drugs is a bad idea. Although you’ve been told not to do drugs before, if you’re anxious there are some especially good reasons not to. Many drugs (including marijuana) can physiologically make anxiety worse in the short term or long term. It can also bring on panic attacks in teens who might be prone to anxiety.
6) Caffeine helps you be productive and get more out of your day. It can wake you up when you are stressed and tired and keep you going.
False. Caffeine can actually increase anxiety and interfere with sleep cycles. Having too much caffeine will eventually catch up to you in a bad way. Watch out for hidden sources of caffeine, such as soft drinks like Mountain Dew, chocolate, and chai lattes.
7) Drinking alcohol can be a good way to relax before a party.
False. In very small amounts alcohol may be somewhat relaxing and decrease anxiety, but it is actually a depressant. This means alcohol slows down the central nervous system. It can change your ability to perceive the world around you accurately and can actually change your emotions.
Drinking to decrease anxiety prevents you from conquering your fear. If you never allow yourself to experience both anxiety and success in conquering it without alcohol, then drinking will just keep the negative cycle going. The next time you are in the same situation you will feel even more anxious, especially if you’ve been depending on alcohol to give you courage and confidence. You might also really regret some of the things you do or say when you’ve been drinking, which can give you even more worries and anxiety.
8) Exercise is not that important until you are middle aged and your metabolism gets slower and you begin to gain weight!
False. The current recommendation is that teens get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. Although it might not seem necessary now, exercise has benefits both now and in the future. Exercise releases endorphins – chemicals that make you feel calmer and more relaxed, and lift your mood. So find an exercise you enjoy and get moving!
9) Smoking can make you feel more alert.
True. Cigarettes contain the drug nicotine, which can act as both a stimulant and a depressant. At first, it will make you feel more alert. However, after awhile it makes you feel more depressed and tired, which is why you crave lighting up again. So add your mental health to the reasons to quit smoking!
10) It’s possible to develop an addiction to video games or the Internet.
True. Internet and gaming addictions is a growing problem, and teens with anxiety and other mental health problems may be particularly at risk. In fact, teens with psychiatric disorders spend almost 7 hours a day in front of screens. Teens with Internet or gaming addictions have been found to have more family problems, school and learning problems, more emotional problems, and more problems with their peers.
Do any of the following statements describe you?
You have tried to cut down on the amount of time you are online and are unable to.
You feel anxious or irritable when you can’t be online.
You feel like you are losing control of your gaming.
You neglect important things in your life because of your online use.
You feel like your Internet use is getting in the way of important things and relationships in your life.
If you think you may have an addiction and need help, talk to a trusted adult or school counsellor.