The new school year is in full swing and many parents are rightfully concerned about how their children’s sleep is being affected, especially teenagers. With school start times that don’t agree with them, tons of assignments due, extracurricular activities and other numerous responsibilities, teenagers have a hard time getting the right amount of sleep they need to be energized throughout the day.
Dr. Christopher Winter, owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine Consulting and medical director of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center, recently shared his own opinion regarding later school start times for teenagers and how that may be affecting their sleep, including his own teenager daughter, on The Huffington Post.
Regardless of what time your teenager has to be at school, his recommendations for what parents need to know to help them sleep better may help your family find a balance:
1. Be on the lookout: Look for signs of excessive daytime sleepiness, and ask your teenager about it.
2. Speak up for your teenager: Talk to teachers early in the school year about a plan for their assignments, extracurricular activities and their possible responsibilities. All of these things on your teenager’s to-do list can keep them up past their bedtime, so any type of flexibility or getting with teach to set an more reasonable due date for assignments can be a life saver.
3. Get familiar with your teenager’s sleep needs: Every person is unique, including teenagers, with their own sleep needs in regards to duration, timing, and environment.
4. Create a standard sleep environment: Encourage great sleep hygiene, including making sure electronic devices are put away at least an hour before bedtime as they hinder sleep. If your teenager has no choice but to work late on an assignment, keeping blue light to a minimum or wear blue light blocking shades to lower the impact.
5. See a sleep specialist: If daytime sleepiness is still holding your teenager back even with a consistent sleep schedule and great sleep hygiene, don’t hesitate to speak to a specialist or their licensed physician. It is possible that your young student may have a sleep disorder.
All in all, continue to be supportive and keep the conversation open about sleep and school in your household. Do you think school should start early or later for teenagers?