Fox News recently reported on a controversial topic that resonates with all parents of teens: student sleep deprivation. Entitled “Small delay in school start time may improve teens’ sleep and focus,” the piece explored how delaying school start times — even by a modest amount — might positively affect teens.
According to a five month study on the sleep habits of teens in Hong Kong, researchers found that teens whose high school delayed the start of the day by just 15 minutes were late to school less often and showed better mental health and focus,
After five months, the results were even more pronounced. The teens with a delayed-start at school had better overall mental health. And, teacher reports indicated improvements in social behavior, relationships with peers, plus fewer emotional problems.
The affects of too little sleep in teens
According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, “Adolescents are notorious for not getting enough sleep. The average amount of sleep that teenagers get is between 7 and 7 ¼ hours. However, they need between 9 and 9 ½ hours.”
This chronic gap between the sleep needed by most teens and the amount they actually get affects teens in many ways. They may exhibit mood swings and crankiness or engage in risk taking behavior. Lack of sleep affects cognitive ability, memory, decision making, so academic performance also may suffer.
And, drowsy driving is a parent’s worst nightmare. TODAY recently aired a report that explained why driving while drowsy may be more dangerous than previously thought. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Drivers who miss only one to two hours of the recommended amount of sleep the night before nearly double their risk for a crash.” In fact, when a teen is sleep deprived, he is as impaired as driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%, which is illegal in many states.
Encourage teens to get enough sleep
If your teen winces as the morning alarm rings or repeatedly hits snooze, take note. According to WedMD, “Sleep is no less important than food, drink, or safety.”
Here are five easy-to-implement tips to help your teen get some much-needed rest:
- Adjust the sleep schedule schedule gradually. Asking a teen to go to bed too early will undoubtedly be met with resistance.
- Cut down on electronics (particularly an hour or two before bedtime). Absolutely no phones in bed.
- Trick the brain with light (add room darkening curtains or shades).
- Limit sugar and caffeine intake, particularly in the evening. This means not only the obvious coffee and tea, but also soda/pop and chocolate.
- Try a wind down routine or meditation each evening.
- Avoid oversleeping on weekends. Although some “catching up” can be helpful, sleeping in until noon on Sunday will make it hard for your teen to get back on a school schedule.
Implement these strategies and your teen will be sleeping like a baby!
About Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc.
Back to Basics Learning Dynamics is the undisputed leader in 1-on-1 tutoring in Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania for over 60 subjects. Since 1985, our commitment to a 1-on-1 teaching method has differentiated us from other educational service providers.
We serve the diverse needs of a range of students – from those who simply need some academic support, to those who are learning disabled, hearing or visually impaired, ADHD, gifted, or on the Autism Spectrum including High Functioning Autistic and Aspergers.
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