With exam season well underway, there are thousands of teenagers up and down the country who are wondering how to cope with exam stress.

If your child is asking you how to relax before a test, take a look at my tips for sleeping the night before the big day, and hopefully your advice will support them through the pressure, and see them on the road to success.

1. Take the Technology Away

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I’m not telling you to wrestle their laptops, smartphones and tablets from their sweaty and stressed hands here.

Instead, try sitting them down and telling them it’s time to turn off the technology as it will only add to the stress they’re already under.

At some point, our brains will simply not retain any more information and staring at a laptop screen up until the moment before bed time will only stop them from sleeping.

In terms of smartphones, chances are their friends are messaging them about the very subject they need to switch off from.

While many would argue a problem shared is a problem solved, their attempts to sleep will only be interrupted by the constant texts from equally as stressed classmates.

They may have slight separation anxiety to begin with, they may even call you a few regretful names, but in the long run, this will be good for their post exam mental health.

2. Get Out of the Bedroom Before Bedtime

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When revising, the temptation to lock yourself away until the whole thing is over is almost undeniable.

I myself would shut the door and knuckle down for hours on end, often eating and sleeping with mounds of papers and books surrounding me.

Basically, this is not a good idea if your child is hoping to sleep at all the night before the big day.

To begin with, their mind will subconsciously associate their place of relaxation with stress, anxiety and above all, restlessness.

The circle of frustration may be familiar to many who have also found themselves wondering how to control sleep while studying, and the answer is simple: get them out of their bedroom.

Not only will it allow them some time to focus their attention on something other than literacy and numeracy, but the breath of fresh air will help their minds disassociate their bed with stress just enough to allow them time to sleep.

They may not want to, but an hour or two away won’t hurt their chances of getting the results they’re working for.

3. Have a Normal Dinner Routine

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Another trap synonymous with revision is the temptation to eat sporadic snacks and mounds of junk food instead of nutritious meals.

If you’re nodding in agreement right now, then it’s likely that your teenager has been doing exactly that.

It may be too late to enforce a well-rounded diet on them now, but for the night before, try bringing them out of their pizza induced, zombie like state and have them sit at the table like a fully functioning human being.

They may only speak in one or two syllables, and there’s no guarantee that they won’t indulge in a barrage of insults once you reveal your good intention and drag them downstairs, but trust me, it’ll help them calm down before their big exam.

By this point, their body is likely to be crying out for nutrition, and a few greens will help calm a few of those hormones before bed time.

Alongside this, their stomach and digestive system will be much more comfortable shutting down for the night knowing that they’re filled with the good stuff.

4. Try and Get Them to Go for a Walk

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Admittedly, this may be quite a challenge since teenagers don’t like being outdoors at the best of times.

I’m sure you’ve heard it from your own mother, and now it’s time to say the words yourself.

Some fresh air will do them good.

It may take some convincing, but getting them not only out of their room but out of the house too will do wonders for their post bedtime mental stress.

If they’re anything like me, they may also open up about their worries and anxieties too. In this case, there’s the added benefit of getting it all off your chest before attempting to switch off for the night.

5. Encourage Them to Stop Revising Earlier Than Normal

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Like I said before, there comes a point when your brain simply won’t retain any more information.

The night before an exam may commonly be referred to as ‘cramming night’, but trying to force any more quotes, equations or diagrams into your brain come 24 hours before is going to cause nothing but a major headache, and a lot of unnecessary anxiety.

A morning of refreshing their minds won’t do any harm, but hours of intense revision will only hamper their chances of success as they’re likely to get little or no sleep that evening.

Switching off before the big day is vital, so try encouraging them to put the books down a good few hours before they plan on hitting the hay.

6. Time to Take Away the Caffeine

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We’ve all been there, struggling to get through the morning without an influx of caffeinated energy.

When it comes to revision however, many teenagers use caffeine as a crutch and it can often lead to headaches and increased anxiety.

You can read that study here.

While it may be a bit much to control the caffeine intake in the weeks leading up to the exam, the night before should only include a maximum of one cup.

Caffeine stays in your body’s system for hours, and if consumed too late in the day, and I’m talking mid-afternoon here, it will stop your teen from sleeping.

They me be reluctant, but a good sleep easily trumps that one more cup of coffee that they so desperately crave.

If you’re worried that your concerns will fall on deaf ears, take a leaf out of my own mother’s handbook and switch the tea and coffee for decaffeinated alternatives. I didn’t notice, and chances are they won’t either.

7. Reassure Them

At the end of the day, a hug and a few comforting words of reassurance will probably go a long way.

They’ve put in the hours, you’ve dealt with the tears, and now the time has come to see whether it’s all been worth it.

Before they go to bed, tell them you’re proud of them, they’ve done a great job and no matter what happens, you know they’re capable of whatever they want to do in life.

I think it’s fair to say that we all know how some sentimentality can really make a difference.

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Exams are unfortunately, a necessary evil. We’ve all been there, and we all have advice to pass on to the next generation of stressed out students.

With a few of these tips, hopefully your teenager will get the rest they need, and come exam time, the result they deserve.

Still Struggling?

If, after all this, your teenager is still struggling to get some quality shut eye, then maybe the problem lies beyond simple exam stress.

Sound likely? Then take a look at our bespoke beds for a personalised bed that can be tailored to even the pickiest of teenagers.

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Read More

If you’d like to learn more about sleeping, and how to cope with certain stresses that hamper your attempts to rest, take a look at a few of my other blogs below.

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