The new school year is around the corner, and it’s time to help your teen reset from summer sleep to school-year sleep cycles. Most teens return to their natural sleep cycle during the summer months, staying up later at night and waking later in the morning.
As you likely know, those first few weeks of school are stressful as the entire family struggles to meet the new time demands of the school year. Here are some tips to help your teen transition from summer sleep to school-year sleep:
Tip 1: Begin the transition process early. Ideally, aim to shift wake up times and bedtimes by no more that 20 minutes per week. This can be tough when your teens sleep schedule is radically different from the school year wake up schedule. If your teen is going to bed at 1 am and waking up at 10 am, she will need to transition to a wake up time that may be 3 hours earlier than her summer wake up time. Discuss the benefits of starting to change the sleep schedule well before the school year begins. Include some incentives, as well as lots of praise, to motivate them to make to make this difficult change.
Tip 2: Set a technology curfew that corresponds to the teen’s new sleep schedule. Technology is the number one sleep interrupter. If you want the new sleep and wake up times to stick, get the technology out of the bedroom altogether or at least an hour before bed time.
If your teen uses their phone as an alarm, buy them a simple alarm clock and ask them to use it. Stock the teen’s room with bedtime amusements that don’t involve technology: Rubic’s cube, deck of cards, books and magazines. Show that you’re committed to a technology curfew by using a Family Technology Contract at the end of this post.
Tip 2: Help your teen create a relaxing bedtime routine. Many teens like to use guided meditations, relaxing sounds, a warm bath or other calming activities to wind down at bedtime. Also, create an optimal sleep environment (cool, dark, and quiet).
Tip 4: Speak to your teen about the summer reset plan and the reasons you believe that beginning the reset early will help ease the transition back to school. It’s likely your teen will want to put this off because changing our sleep routines is difficult! Praise and rewards can help your teen sign up for the plan and get back on the plan if they slip back into the old sleep cycle.
Tip 5: Practice What You Preach. Make sleep a priority for everyone in the family. Practice these tips and share with your teen your own sleep challenges and the benefits you experience when you sleep better and longer. Good sleep habits improve the health and well-being of the family.
Help Your Teen Sleep
Sleep is food for the brain—especially for teens. Based on the most current sleep science and interventions to improve sleep, the new book from Michael A. Tompkins, PhD,and Monique A. Thompson, PsyD, The Insomnia Workbook for Teens will help teens change their sleep habits.