The benefits of homeschooling and distance learning extend beyond taking ownership over your own education; they allow you to cultivate a healthy lifestyle. Clonlara School’s Off-Campus Program students and learners enrolled in our online courses have the flexibility to schedule learning around their needs, but even with this flexibility, it can still be difficult to get the right amount of sleep.
For good reason, the topic of teens getting enough sleep and the push for later school start times has been getting a lot of buzz. Teenage brains require 9.5 to 10 hours of sleep, slightly more than children and adults. The cause for this, according to Johns Hopkins pediatrician Michael Crocetti, is to account for teenage growth spurts, along with solidifying newly learned information and supporting the immune system. Not only can falling short of a full night’s sleep put you in a poor mood and make you look terrible, it can also put you at risk of getting sick, depressed, or even be fatal when you get behind the wheel. Even with these serious repercussions, just to name a few, teens rarely get the sleep they need.
Staying up late doing homework, watching “just one more” episode on Netflix, scrolling social media, or catching up with friends quickly diminishes precious hours of sleep. Such activities also keep your brain in an alert state, making it difficult to fall asleep. In order to ensure you are getting enough sleep, it is essential to be aware of what it means to have good sleep hygiene.
To help your teen get more quality sleep, try sharing these simple simple lifestyle adjustments:
- No Screens! This is where most people don’t realize how hard they are making it for themselves to sleep. The light from the screen tells your brain not to produce natural melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy), instead sending the message that it is time to be awake and alert. At the end of the day, instead of lying in bed and scrolling social media, choose to read a light novel or do a calming activity until you get sleepy. Then, go to your bed.
- Only use your bed for sleeping and not for watching movies, eating snacks, or doing homework. This is called stimulus control and prevents you from linking the need to be awake and alert to your bed, a place of peace and rest.
- Skip the nap. Taking naps throughout the day makes it hard to fall asleep at night. If you must nap, keep it short (about 20 minutes).
- Avoid caffeine after noon. Depending on your sensitivity, you might need to adjust the time or perhaps avoid caffeine altogether.
- Do the math, set a schedule, and stick to it. If you need 10 hours of sleep to feel good, what time do you need to go to sleep in order to get up at 7:00 am? (Answer: 9:00 pm). Sticking to a schedule allows your body to get in a healthy sleep rhythm. Keep your routine even on the weekend.
Still curious about the research behind teen sleep needs? Check out the the following sites to learn more:
- “Teens and Sleep” from the National Sleep Foundation
- “New Science on Teen Sleep You NEED To Know” from The Sleep Doctor
- “Sleep in Adolescents: The Perfect Storm” by Mary A. Carskadon
By Melissa Lefevre, Online Program Teacher