Sleep Your Way Back to School

A shot of an asian student falling asleep while studying at home

Sleep is key to a successful school year.

One-third of Americans have been late to school or work because of a poor night’s sleep. It can be especially hard to bounce back into a school schedule after a summer of late nights and equally late mornings. How can you and your kids easily transition when it’s time to go back to school? A regular sleep schedule and consistent daily routines can result in greater productivity and focus for children during the school day. This will help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle those busy weekday mornings.

Impact of Sleep on Teens

Think it’s ok to let your kids stay up late to study? Think again! A recent study of high school students showed that no matter how much overall studying takes place late night, students who stayed up late were more likely to have academic problems the next day. Lack of sleep lead to teens having trouble understanding class material and, as a result, they performed poorly on tests and homework assignments.

Keeping kids on a tight sleep schedule can also benefit them outside of academia. Teens who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of engaging in risky and unhealthy behaviors, like smoking, drinking, drug use and fighting. They’re also more likely to gain weight from consuming more calories and eating higher fat foods than teens that do get enough sleep.

Lack of sleep is also linked to increased risk for mental health and behavioral issues. One study showed that teens short on sleep were more likely to have feelings of depression, stress, excessive worry and anxiety.

Sleep is essential to a healthy brain and children who don’t get an adequate amount of snooze time may see their schoolwork and mental health negatively impacted this fall.

Keep on Schedule

A consistent schedule is important for both parents and children. Set bed and wake times and stick to them. Work backwards from the time you know you must get up to figure out an ideal bedtime. Practice these established bed and wake times for a few weeks before school starts to get used to a new schedule.

  • Practice time management. Ensure that you schedule enough time to get plenty of sleep around academic, extracurricular and social activities.
  • Sleep in a little during weekends. Your kids’ biological clocks will definitely appreciate an extra hour or two of sleep. Make sure it’s no longer than a few hours though, since sleeping all day can actually make them feel more tired.

Create a Proper Sleep Environment

Keep tech devices out of the bedroom; the light put off by these devices can interrupt sleep and keep both parents and child awake. Face the bed west to avoid getting direct sunlight from the sun rising in the morning. Try to avoid noise and light if possible. If not, buy blackout shades, eyeshades, earplugs or a sound machine to maintain a dark, quiet sleeping area.

Having trouble implementing a new back-to-school schedule? Here are a few more tips to get your family on a regular, healthy sleep schedule.

Tips for Better Sleep

  • Limit caffeine intake after 2:30 p.m.
  • Exercise each day. Let your kids play outside as long as possible; this will help ensure their sleepiness at bedtime.
  • Unplug electronic devices an hour before bed. This means turning off all cell phones, iPhone, televisions and laptops to start relaxing for bedtime.

Getting back into a school routine may be hard, but the consequences of sleep deprivation are worse. Go over new schedules with your children and prepare to put your foot down if they don’t want to stick to it.

By creating the healthy sleep environments necessary to ensure a good night’s sleep, you can promote the necessary habits to help you and your kids feeling the best for the new school year.

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