While breezy summer schedules allow for staying up late and sleeping in, many find it quite a challenge to break their summertime sleep routines when it comes time to go back to school.
Though it may be easier said than done, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) suggests that parents and students begin to adjust their sleep patterns at least a couple weeks prior to the start of the new school year in order to break themselves of summer sleeping habits. Instead of jumping to an hour or two earlier, approach an earlier bedtime gradually by adjusting it by 15 minutes or so each night.
But what’s the big deal, you may wonder? Is it really that important that you and your kids get back on track for sleeping at the start of the school year?
Based on the NSF’s 2004 and 2006 Sleep in America polls, children and teens generally do not get enough sleep. While the recommended amount of sleep for school-aged children is ten to eleven hours per night, many get 1.5 hours less. As for adolescents, only 20 percent get the recommended nine hours each school night. Not only does an inadequate amount of sleep throw off people’s biological clocks, it can also affect their performance and alertness during daytime hours.
According to the NSF, kids who get less than eight hours of sleep are more apt to receive lower grades than their fellow classmates who get adequate amounts of sleep. And sleep-deprived students are also feeling it. In fact, more than half of all adolescents admit to feeling sleepy during the school day.
Other statistics collected in NSF polls include:
- Of all high school students, 28 percent report falling asleep in school, 22 percent report falling asleep while doing homework and 14 percent report arriving late or missing school entirely because they oversleep.
- A total of 73 percent of the teens who report feeling unhappy, sad, or depressed also report not receiving adequate sleep at night.
- While 35 percent of middle school students say they receive optimal sleep on school nights, just nine percent of high school students do.
By starting off the school year right, well, and rested, kids are more likely to adopt a smart sleeping routine. Along with establishing a routine, other helpful tips include creating a good sleep environment, limiting caffeine and exercise before bed and turning off the television or lights.
As for parents, the NSF recommends that you do your part by being a good role model; hit the hay at a reasonable hour, and make sure your kids understand the importance of sleep by talking to them about it and establishing set bedtimes.
No one said it was easy to hear that alarm clock go off bright and early when fall rolls around, but, with a little preparation, it won’t be too hard to get a handle on your back to school bedtime routine.
For more information about healthy sleeping habits, visit www.sleepfoundation.org or www.sleepforkids.org.