Does anyone get enough sleep anymore? Maybe you do, but the teens in your life almost certainly do not. What makes the prospect of sleepy high schoolers yawning and grumbling their way through life? Kids not getting enough sleep are in no position to learn effectively, make good decisions, or manage their famously turbulent emotions. They certainly don’t have the ability to earn their best grades or test scores.
Clearly, teen success depends, in part, on better sleep hygiene. As in all teen hygiene-related matters, adult support and supervision may be required. Simply put, don’t just tell the high schoolers in your life to get enough sleep. Help them.
Start by implementing–and enforcing–the routine for optimal sleep. The 10-3-2-1-0 formula establishes an easy model for superior sleep hygiene:
10 hours before bed – No more caffeine
3 hours before bed – No more food
2 hours before bed – No more work
1 hour before bed – No more screen time
0 – The number of times you hit the snooze button in the morning
High schoolers slammed with unreasonable amounts of homework may assert the necessity of working into the wee hours of the night, but laying down the law for a sane sleep routine can eventually eliminate the insanity of burning all that midnight oil.
The second step to better sleep involves getting your teen to actually buy into the benefits of a routine. Rather than issuing an imperious “Because I said so,” explain the concept of sleep opportunity. Getting into bed nine hours before the alarm hardly ever results in nine full hours of sleep. While some lucky souls lapse into deep slumber as soon as their heads hit their pillows, most of us cycle through various stages before blessed sleep arrives. Working with your teen to determine how much time in bed equates to the proper amount of sleep can elicit the necessary cooperation to make your sleep scheme work.
The final step ensures that you’re not missing out on all those benefits of superior sleep that you’re trying to share with your teen. Shift your family’s routines so everyone gets enough sleep. Very few high schoolers respect a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. Show how important sleep is by ensuring that everyone in your household gets enough. Developmental pediatrician Dr. Mark Bertin suggests the following: “Encourage a lifestyle that allows for family time, down time, exercise and sleep. Routines like regular family meals and rules around technology have been shown to benefit teens behaviorally and academically.”
In a perfect world, high school would start later and involve a lot less homework. But until society catches up to science, the responsibility for making sure teens get enough sleep falls to parents. Consider how many of the struggles your teen–and family as a whole–faces can be traced to a simple lack of sufficient sleep, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t take these steps sooner.