Help Your Kids Get the Rest They Need to Succeed
It’s safe to say that summer vacation is probably any student or teacher’s favorite part of any given year. There’s plenty of time for plans and even more of it for doing nothing at all, which is a favorite hobby for many of us. In short, you’re free to do with your days as you darn well please!
And also tends to be at its annual peak during the summer months, even though the heat can make it uncomfortable to take an invigorating afternoon siesta for some of us, but that’s more than made up for by the fact that we have nothing but time to get all the shut eye our heart’s desire.
But as the weather begins to slowly shift to the cooler side and our days are cut shorter, we can’t help but be reminded that the glorious freedom of summer is coming to an end. As trips to the beach morph into car rides to school, many of us come to realize that our summer sleep schedules aren’t going to cut it once we’re back to the grind.
So, yes, the end of summer is a bummer, but believe it or not, losing that extra freedom can actually be a good thing (yes, we’re serious!) when it comes to your health and happiness. Why? Getting back to a regimented sleep schedule with the start of a new school year is the perfect way to grab some of the best, most restful sleep of your life.
Five More Minutes?
It seems that school start times only get earlier and earlier with each year, doesn’t it? Six or seven in the morning to two in the afternoon is not a healthy time for teenagers to be awake and learning. Especially when the majority of them have stayed up way later than they should the night before.
A number of studies have shown that getting a healthy amount of quality sleep is connected to better performance in school. And that the opposite is just as true, for us all. When we don’t get enough of sleep each night, we’re setting ourselves up for failure the next day.
Whether it’s the first day of Kindergarten or the start of a challenging new career, everyone can benefit from getting as much quality rest as possible. But the sad fact is that 1 out 3 of us are getting fewer than seven hours of sleep per night.
Why? We’re not setting ourselves up for sleeping success by creating a regular bedtime routine for every single night of the week. Simply put, if you’re not relaxing in the evening and getting to bed at the same time each night, you’re just not going to get the sleep that you need to perform at your peak, no matter what age you happen to be.
Health professionals recommend that anyone that is 16 or younger should be getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep each night. And for the best results, it should really be closer to 10 hours of solid, uninterrupted sack time.
Scientists have known for quite awhile that our biological clocks “shift forward” during adolescence, meaning that we produce more melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep) in the morning, and less of it at night. This probably explains why teens have a natural tendency being night owls, and such a hard time getting up in the morning, no matter how hard they might try to force themselves into the schedule that has been set for them by schools.
Everybody Learns Better When They’re Awake
Many schools and districts have long debated the best start times for students. Some people insist that children thrive when given the extra time after school that’s gained by starting early, while others claim that asking adolescents to be awake and learning at seven in the morning is practically cruel and unusual punishment.
The truth is that the optimal time for students to start their school day is probably somewhere right smack in the middle of the debate but that’s really not what parents should be focusing on when it comes to helping their kids make the most of the new school year.
So where should parents put their energy and attention? Yep, you guessed it! Helping their children get better sleep (and more of it).
Students of all ages need the right amount of quality sleep to flourish both academically and physically. That means that the best bet is for you to do everything you can to make sure that your late night loving kiddo is sawing logs and not burning the midnight oil.
Sleep Deprivation is Real
Behavioral outbursts, falling grades, loss of focus. All of these things point to sleep deprivation in school-age children. The epidemic affects 73% of American teenagers. That’s got to be a sign that something isn’t right, and it’s being all but ignored by most schools.
Sleep deprivation is nothing to mess with. In many cases, students not getting enough sleep can experience drowsy-driving incidents, anxiety, depression, and even develop ADHD. It’s not uncommon for students to be doing homework until late into the night, or have full-blown anxiety attacks over the workload and lack of sleep.
One study found that for every 10 minutes later that a student goes to bed, there’s a 6% increase in the chance that they have used alcohol or marijuana in the past month. Other studies showed that less getting less sleep led to drinking and driving, risky behavior, and binge-drinking.
Losing good sleep can also have an adverse effect on young people’s physical health. Poor sleep has been linked to risks of obesity and diabetes in teens, as well as an increased risk of developing diabetes in adulthood.
Adolescents who lose sleep are also more likely to be dependent on sleeping pills or anxiety medication. Most prescription sleep aids aren’t approved for minors, but the ones being prescribed to them, such as Ambien, still have unknown long-term effects, which alarms many researchers.
For Powerful Rest, First Power Off
As enjoyable and convenient as it may seem to have your phone and laptop within reach at all times while you’re in bed for late night social media scrolling, numerous studies show that this is the exact opposite of where your electronics should be before bed if you’re trying to maximize your sleep.
Most adolescents are “addicted” to their electronics and would gladly give up sleep in order to stay up to chat with their friends or post photos on Snap or Instagram. In 2014, at least 89% of adults and 75% of children had electronics in their bedrooms.
Some studies have shown that the light emitted by things like phones, TVs, computers etc can be keeping you awake. Although there are some helpful tools and apps that can be helpful for sleep, the overall verdict was no electronics equals easier sleep.
One study took 12 volunteers and had them read for four hours before bedtime and found that the participants that read on an electronic device versus with a paper book produced lower levels of melatonin and had a much harder time falling to sleep and staying that way
Overall, the general conclusion was that if you’re grasping at straws as to why your student just can’t seem to get any shut-eye, the time may have come for you to institute an “electronics free” policy for their room at bedtime. They might grumble but they’ll also find doing their schoolwork much easier with more sleep each night.
What’s Your Better Sleep Game Plan?
It’s safe to say that having a plan is one of the best ways to tackle anything new that comes up in your life and helping your kids succeed during the school year with better sleep is no different.
Check out these helpful hacks for planning your way to better sleep for the whole family after the freedom of summer has come and gone for another year…
5 Tricks for Better Sleep During the School Year
1. Develop a set bedtime schedule: Both you and your child deserve to get the perfect amount of rest to suit your age and your day. Start by simply going to bed and waking up each and every day. For the best results, stay on schedule even on the weekends.
2. Set a “wind down” time: Make a certain time of day (say after dinner or baths) for everyone to start calming and quieting down and getting ready for bed. Encourage reading, listening to calming music or even practicing some light yoga.
3. Keep an eye on the clock: Make sure that there isn’t a lack of clocks in your home so you can gauge how long it is until bedtime, no matter which room you happen to be in. You don’t want it to sneak up on you and have to rush everyone off to bed.
4. Just say no to those devices
Implementing a rule that all devices (televisions included) should be turned off at least two hours before bed probably won’t do much for your popularity with your kids, but it will do wonders for their health and happiness when they start getting more sleep as a result.
5. Stay consistent: Developing new habits and better health can be easy at first but sticking with them is where the rubber meets the road. Ignore begging or crying to go back to the way things were before. Remember that you’re committing yourself to helping your children to succeed in the new school year and for many years to come!