Summer is a time to relax and recover from the months of learning. It’s a time that can lead to wonderful memories of sunshine, vacations, new experiences, and late nights. However, sometimes those late nights and late morning wake up times can become habitual.
For kids, teens, and adults, lack of sleep has been connected to:
- Greater risk of depression, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease
- Irritability and impulsivity
- Problems associated with learning
Since an integral part of learning is sleep, it’s crucial that kids, teens, and adults enrolled in school get back on a regular, healthy sleep schedule. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine claims that kids ages 6 to 12 need around 9 to 12 hours of sleep while teenagers and adults require 8 to 10 hours.1
If you or your child are wondering how to fix your sleep schedule for the back-to-school season, there are several simple, healthy habits that you or your child can practice to help get your back-to-school sleep schedule back on track.
Back-to-School Sleep Schedule Tips
Create Consistent Bedtimes
If you want to fix your or your child’s sleep schedule, it would help to set a specific schedule. When a habit to go to bed at a certain time is created, it may help regulate our body’s circadian rhythm. Additionally, it’s important to set a time to wake up every morning, even on the weekends.
Setting consistent sleep and wake times takes some time and dedication, but the habit may form quicker than you think. Before you know it, you might be able to fall asleep and wake up without any alarms. For those who may want to sleep in on the weekends, it’s recommended that you don’t exceed one or two hours past your scheduled wake time.
Establish Relaxing Routines
Speaking of consistency, relaxing routines that signal that it’s time to wind down for bed may also help prepare your kids or yourself for bedtime. For kids and teens, that might mean that they read a book, listen to a bedtime story, journal, take a warm bath, or other soothing activities. These habitual practices may also help introduce proper hygiene practices too, as kids or teens can brush their teeth, wash their face, or perform any other cleansing activities.
For those looking for more intentional relaxation tips, meditation or light stretching, like yoga, could help establish healthy routines to help wind down. Whichever activities you choose, it’s important to remember that these activities should be “quiet time,” or time for your mind to settle.
Limit Screen Time and Light Exposure
There is a particular reason why it’s recommended that everyone (kids, teens, and adults) limit their screen time and light exposure before bed. The blue light, a particular light emitted by electronic devices like cell phones, TVs, and tablets, trick our brains into thinking that it’s still light outside.2 That may inhibit the production of melatonin, a crucial component in relaxation and sleep. To help increase your or your child’s melatonin production, keep bedrooms dark with minimal light.
If you’re an older teen or adult who must perform homework or other work at night, you may look into downloading apps or programs that diminish the amount of blue light emitted by your device. The app or program will change the light temperature of your device to a warmer color, which is not as harsh as blue light.
“Rise and Shine” is more instructional than you might realize. The same principle of keeping the bedroom dark for sleep is similar for when it’s time to wake. Expose yourself or your children to light as soon as you wake — you could open up a curtain, stretch out on a porch, or take a short walk around the block.
Avoid Eating Before Bed
During the summer, you or your child’s schedule might have been thrown off by late nights, including the times in which food is consumed. When it comes to eating, it’s important to try and avoid eating large meals before bed.3 Digestion is a process that might trigger your body to stay awake longer. However, a full belly right before bed might cause indigestion or discomfort during sleep, which could disrupt the necessary sleep cycles.
It’s best to not eat food at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. An empty stomach may cause discomfort, as well. If you or your child are hungry, try and keep the snacks light with minimal sugar. A healthy combination of carbs and protein are an acceptable snack before bed.
Not only does exercise offer health benefits, but it may also assist you in creating a more restful sleep schedule. Habitual physical activity may help kids and adults be more tired when it comes time to sleep. It’s recommended that everyone exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week.
Physical activity, when performed in the sunshine, may also add a compounding effect, as absorbing vitamin D may benefit your sleep schedule.4
Skip Long Naps
If you or your child have been up late at night trying to complete a project or get some homework done, it might be tempting to take a nap during the day after to correct your sleep schedule. However, to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, it’s recommended not to take a nap. Long naps can cause grogginess or disrupted sleep cycles, which might throw your sleep schedule further into whack.
If you or your child must nap, sleep for 30 minutes or less and try to refrain from napping in the late afternoons or evenings.
Maintain a Comfortable Bedroom
A clean and organized room is not just for show. When your bedroom is cluttered or messy, it doesn’t inspire calm or relaxation when it comes time to sleep. Additionally, adding a few items like darker curtains or a white noise machine may help make the bedroom a more comfortable sleep environment. Cooler room temperatures (between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit) may also aid in restful sleep.
In essence, it’s recommended that the bedroom is maintained and thought of as a restful location — that it is associated with sleep. It’s also a great lesson in personal responsibility for children to keep their rooms clean and organized.
Melatonin Supplements for Adults
If you’re in college and having a hard time getting into a proper sleep schedule, melatonin supplements may promote relaxation and sleep. Melatonin is a natural hormone released to regulate your sleep schedule, and a supplement could aid you in a sleep schedule reset to restore proper restfulness.
Please note that melatonin is not a sleeping pill. It’s an over-the-counter supplement. It is advised that you speak with your physician about melatonin use, especially if you’re considering melatonin supplements for children and teenagers.
Speak with a Doctor
Routines and habits may help with fixing your child’s or your sleep schedule. However, there are instances when sleeplessness or unrestful sleep can become chronic. If the erratic sleep schedule persists, know that you may speak with your doctor about any problems with sleep schedules. Your doctor, physician, or pediatrician may direct you to a sleep specialist who can guide you through sleep treatments.
Make Bedtime Something You Look Forward To
Comfortable bedding can make all the difference in how you perceive bedtime. If you or your child have a hard time falling asleep or wake up with a stiff neck or back, it could be time to change your pillow. When your pillow is the perfect pillow for you or your child, it’s like an incentive to go to bed. JUVEA™ pillows are vegan pillows naturally derived from the hevea brasiliensis tree. Our unique processes make our pillows VOC-free, petroleum-free, free from harmful chemicals, eco-friendly, and baby-safe. Choose from high to low profile pillows, cooling pillows, or large pillows — we have a pillow for however you or your child sleeps.
1. Paruthi S, Brooks Li, D’Ambrosio C, Hall W, Kotagal S, Lloyd RM, Malow B. Maski K, Nichols C, Quan SF, Rosen CL, Troester MM, Wise MS. Recommended Amount of Sleep for Pediatric Populations: A Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. J Clin Sleep Med. 2016 May 25. pii: jc-00158-16. PubMed PMID: 27250809.
2. Hysing M, Pallesen S, Stormark KM, et al Sleep and use of electronic devices in adolescence: results from a large population-based study BMJ Open 2015;5:e006748. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006748
3. Kinsey AW, Ormsbee MJ. The Health Impact of Nighttime Eating: Old and New Perspectives. Nutrients. 2015; 7(4):2648-2662.
4. David E.McCarty, Andrew L.ChessonJr, .Sushil K.Jain, Andrew A. Marinoa. The Link Between Vitamin D, Metabolism and Sleep Medicine. Sleep Medicine Reviews, Volume 18, Issue 4. 2014.