Back to School – Sleep Needed

Today was the first day of school for me and my new students.  It was a truly exciting and exhausting day.  Many of us did not sleep well last night, as our brains buzzed with so many random things to do, to remember, and to worry about.  And on top of a little sleep deprivation, we expend a lot of extra physical, emotional, and mental energy in these first days of school.  It’s a shock to the system, indeed.

More than ever we need to take care of ourselves by eating well, exercising, drinking lots of water, and setting a good sleep pattern.

The American Medical Association recommends that adolescents sleep approximately 9 hours a night. Yet, there is some research to suggest that biological sleep patterns change in adolescence. Melatonin, the chemical our brain secretes to help us sleep, is secreted in the teen brain from 11 pm to 8am. Thus, your teen may not FEEL sleepy earlier than 11. Nonetheless, there are some practical ways you can help your child get sleep.

•Avoid caffeine in the afternoon.

•Avoid computer games that can be arousing prior to bedtime.

•Avoid bright lights in the evening and sleeping with a TV or computer screen flickering in the bedroom.

• Allow your teen to sleep in 2 to 3 hours later than the usual on weekends. Allowing your teen to sleep more can disrupt his/her sleeping schedule.

•Make sure your teen has a healthy breakfast. Often, teens don’t take the time to eat in the morning – providing a high protein energy bar is a simple solution.

•Help your teen plan study times. Post a family calendar on the refrigerator with all family obligations, sports practices, church activities, etc. This allows your teen to plan blocks of time to complete homework. A teen’s ability to plan and organize is a later developing brain function; do not be afraid to provide structure, as needed.

•Homework is a learning tool that helps provide the student and teacher with information concerning skills/concepts that may or may not have been understood. If your student is struggling with an assignment, encourage your teen to make an appointment with his/her teacher.  Check homework for completion, not accuracy.

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