Entering "Back to School" season, it's easy to focus on shopping for the obvious, tangible supplies like pencils, paper, books, and computers. But as you set your student up for success, we'd urge you not to forget about sleep.
Recently, much attention has been given to the idea that school schedules aren’t compatible with the sleep needs of growing children – especially teens. (This will surely come as no surprise to their parents!) Some school districts are even changing start times to support better sleep, but it’s complicated – bus schedules and finances can thwart the best of intentions.
Fortunately, while the bigger infrastructure issues get sorted out, there ARE things that you, as a parent, can do:
- Prioritize YOUR sleep. “Do as I say, not as I do” is never as powerful as setting a good example, yourself.
- Strive for quantity, yes – but don’t forget about quality. Create a good sleep environment, and you’ll likely find that you sleep more deeply and wake up feeling more restored – even if you aren’t sleeping as many hours as might be ideal. Don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “better.”
- Create a routine. A solid pre-bedtime routine is the very best kind of homework, because you’re teaching your child something that will benefit him or her for many years to come. Research supports the idea that good sleep hygiene includes screen-free relaxation time before bed, and that it’s often helpful to have a consistent pattern which eventually becomes a cue for sleep. Frequently, we focus on sleep routines for babies, but they’re actually beneficial at every age – so don’t give up on them in grade school! – and as you encourage your teen to put the phone to bed, refer back to point number one, too. ;)