Is it too soon to get ready for another school year? Pencils, papers, clothing and shoes are ALL important but getting set for school also includes changing your sleep habits. Sleep is FOOD for your brain! While you are sleeping, your body and your brain are busy repairing your muscles, consolidating your memories and releasing hormones that regulate muscle development, bone growth and appetite balance. Depriving yourself of sleep will also negatively affect your immune system.
The circadian rhythms that determine human sleep cycles go through an adjustment period during the teen years and into early adulthood. Although most teens may not be physically tired until 11pm or later, they may be mentally exhausted.
During the summer, with those long sun-filled hours, you may have been able to stay up late and count on sleeping in the next day. Making a sudden switch to an earlier wake-up call, could be very challenging!
Here are some helpful hints:
1) Start now! Go to bed earlier and get up earlier in the morning. Use sunshine to help reset your internal clock by opening the curtains in your room. When you wake up, eat a balanced breakfast in a sunny, bright spot in your home. You will need between 9-12 hours of sleep a night to feel rested and ready to learn. Routines are important, so even on the weekend don’t sleep in more than an hour later than usual.
2) Get some exercise! You rest better at night if you have had some physical activity during the day. You will want to stop vigorous activity 2 hours before bed-time and switch to calm, quiet times.
3) Slow it down. Establish a “quiet time” before sleep. No scary movies or dramatic music in the last 2 hours before bed. Instead, think of soothing routines such as a warm bath/shower, reading, or a small, light snack. Avoid anything carbonated or caffeinated for at least 4-6 hours before bedtime.
4) Comfort is a must. Bed and bedding need to be comfortable and having the bedroom at a slightly cooler temperature is helpful.
See you in September!
Author Darlene Ledwon, MSN.FNP, CNM, is a Nursing Supervisor with the Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools.
University of Michigan Health System regarding sleep:
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for tips on talking with teens:
American Sleep Apnea Association regarding sleep apnea in children:
American Academy of Pediatrics regarding teens and sleep: