How can I motivate a teen to get to bed early?
Many young people prefer to stay up late and to sleep in late, but these habits are not ones that will lead them to success! Helping teens learn the discipline of getting to bed early and rising early sets them on track to establish healthful disciplines and to learn the value of time.
As you aim to motivate a teen to get to bed early, remember the two keys of motivation: the fear of loss and the desire for gain. Talk about the benefits of a good night’s rest and the increased productivity of an early riser. Remind him that he will miss out on these benefits if he makes a habit of going to bed late.
Use the following concepts to encourage a teen to get to bed early so he can rise early. Challenge him to take care of his body and mind by ensuring he has enough rest at night, enabling him to get up early in the morning.
Understand that the day begins with the evening.
By God’s design in Genesis 1, our day begins in the evening rather than in the morning. “. . . And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5). The last thoughts you have before falling asleep will be on your subconscious mind all through the night and will set your attitude for the next day. Thus, it is important to precede sleep with Scripture and prayer. David wrote: “. . . Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. . . . I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:4b–5, 8).
Create a restful atmosphere before going to bed.
Listening to worshipful music in the evening is a wonderful way to prepare for sleep. Such music soothes the spirit and minimizes the pressures of the day. One result of being filled with the Spirit is “. . . singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).
Anticipate and remove hindrances to going to bed.
Some of the hindrances of getting to bed are other people, distracting noises, a heavy meal, an interesting book, an unfinished responsibility, or telephone calls. Discuss solutions for each of these hindrances, such as using an answering machine for phone calls, doing better planning to get work done on time, and practicing self-discipline for maintaining a decent bedtime.
Discuss the rewards of meditating on Scripture at night.
There are many benefits of meditating on God’s Word:
- Inward fulfillment: “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches” (Psalm 63:5–6).
- Good success: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
- Prosperity: “His delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalm 1:2–3).
- Maturity and equipment for good works: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16–17).
Learn to talk to God with Scripture.
Before turning out the light at night, select a passage of Scripture on which to meditate. Quote that Scripture to the Lord as a personal prayer. Some good passages to begin with are Psalm 1, James 1, Psalm 23, Romans 6, and Psalm 19.
As you quote the Scripture to the Lord, emphasize a different word each time you repeat the passage, and picture the action of that word. Consider how the Scripture can be an expression of the mind, will, and emotions. As you receive God’s Word, believe it, and obey it, the passage becomes “engrafted” in your soul, so that it will bear fruit in your life. “. . . Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).
Never go to bed angry.
The admonition of Ephesians 4:26–27 is clear: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.” If you go to bed angry, Satan gains a foothold in your life that enables him to deceive you. Believing the lies of the enemy leads to the torments of fear, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other troubles.
Before you go to bed, pray and discern if you are abiding in the truth of Ephesians 4:31–32: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Establish occasional “night watches” for meditation.
Before David served King Saul, he kept his father’s sheep. His responsibilities included getting up in the middle of the night to guard the sheep. He testified that these shifts were special times for meditating on God’s Word. (See Psalm 63:6.) Getting to bed early will enable you to plan for an occasional “night watch.” Set the alarm for 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00 a.m. to get up to pray and meditate on Scripture for half an hour. Then go back to bed to finish the night of sleep.
Wake up in the morning with Scripture on your mind.
If you go to sleep meditating on God’s Word, and if you have a song in your heart through the night, you will be far more prone to wake up in the morning with thoughts of Scripture. When you do, write out the passage of Scripture and carry it throughout the day in order to memorize it.
This article is adapted from pages 30–31 of the Effective Counseling Course, Part Seven.