Teens are among those least likely to get their required sleep. Science says they still need 8 ½ to 9 ¼ hours of sleep. Does your teen even come close? Chances are when high school starts it’s going to get even harder as many school plan their schedule around bus times and classroom space – not the teen’s circadian rhythm. Here are 5 strategies to help that teen get the sleep they need on school nights.
1. Form A Partnership With Your Teen. It’s not going to be easy, but even when you think your teen hasn’t heard a work you’ve said, they probably have. Explain what’s happening with their bodies. Let them know that you want them to get as close to that 8+ hours of sleep as possible. Say why – that it’s really going to make life easier. Cognitive functioning really does improve with a good night’s sleep. Your teen may be resistant but keep sending the message.
2. Make Morning Easier. You can’t change the time school starts (although it doesn’t hurt to lobby for those changes). What you can do is make mornings run as smoothly as possible. Again, work with your teen so they can sleep as late as possible. You probably don’t pack a lunch any more, but, if the time on the bus is long enough or if someone else is driving, think about a breakfast on the go. Make it a good one like an egg sandwich. Suggest they shower at night and put out everything they will need in the morning – from their clothing to their backpack.
3. Lights Out. It’s not a myth – our sleep is regulated by light. You can help here. First, make sure your teen does screen-time homework early in the evening and bookwork is done later. Get an app like f.lux that automatically changes the light on the computer as it gets closer to bedtime. You can even help by dimming the lights in the home as bedtime approaches.
4. Beds Are For Sleeping. Another hard one – because for a teen bed’s often become the center of their social life – a place to text, a place to chat on the phone and more. Spend some time creating your teen’s room so there is a comfortable place to socialize, a place to study – and the bed is just for sleeping.
5. Keep A Schedule. It’s so tempting after that teenager has put in a hard week of classes, homework, athletics and more to let them control the weekend by going to bed late and sleeping through the morning. That’s counterproductive and then some. You’ll find it almost impossible to change back to a school schedule on Sunday night so keep your teen’s schedule as consistent as possible while still allowing some freedom to enjoy the weekend.
It’s going to be a tough road to convince your teen that “early to bed, early to rise” – or, at least, a schedule that allows for 8+ hours of sleep — may be the path to success. Make sure that when that teenager does get under the covers that the mattress is going to help send him or her to dreamland. There are great options on the Internet like supportive Latex Foam beds at prices that make them very worth the investment. You get savings – your teen gets the support and comfort that may make getting that teen to bed a bit easier!