Summer is officially winding down, and if you have a teenager in the house, that means you’re probably thinking about them heading back to school. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic last year caused many kids and teens to switch to remote learning, which often contributed to later schedules.
Then, of course, teens are notorious for poor sleeping habits in the summer. So, getting back on track can be difficult for teens.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to get your teen’s sleep where it needs to be before the first day of school. Let’s cover a few tips that can make the process easier for both of you so they’ll be rested and ready for school.
Set a Sleep Schedule
Setting a sleep schedule is important year-round, but it can change depending on your teen’s needs. When it comes to getting ready for school, you should start transitioning them into a sleep schedule that mimics what they’ll need for weekday mornings.
That means having them wake up at the same time each day—seven days a week. Yes, they’re probably going to complain about it on the weekends. But this will build up their sleep drive and make it easier for them to get out of bed without hitting “snooze” when it’s time to get ready for school.
If your teen is complaining or having a hard time with a new sleep schedule, start slowly. Make their wake time 15 minutes earlier than what it is now and keep working backward from there until they get used to it.
Use the Bed Only for Sleep
Many studies have shown that using the bed to watch TV, browsing your phone, or even reading in bed can cause the brain to correlate it with those activities instead of sleeping. If your teen wants to do any of those things before falling asleep, make sure it’s in a different area.
When they’re ready to go to sleep, then they can go to their bedroom. Their mind will have an easier time associating the bed with sleeping, and they’ll fall asleep faster and more soundly. It can be difficult to keep a teen from using their phone in bed, but it’s a healthy habit to start now that they can carry with them into adulthood.
Additionally, make sure their bedroom environment is conducive to sleeping. If they have a messy, cluttered room, that can cause extra stress that makes it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Teenagers and messy rooms might go hand-in-hand, but encourage them to keep it clean to create a more relaxing atmosphere.
Don’t “Force” Sleep
Part of a sleep schedule often includes going to bed at the same time. But, there’s no “magic button” that can make anyone fall asleep right away.
While lying in bed for a few minutes before falling asleep is fine, it can become problematic when your teenager is tossing and turning for a long period of time. If that’s the case, talk to them about getting out of bed and doing something else for a while. It can be tempting to have a strict “bedtime” for them, no matter what. But, if they’re not tired, don’t force them to go to sleep. However, make sure they know their wake time will be the same, no matter what.
Helping your teen get their sleep habits back on track will make the beginning of the school year easier for both of you. After a year of so many uncertainties, this is one small thing that can make a big difference in how ready they are to tackle in-person learning again.
And if your teen needs more help with their sleep or struggles with insomnia, feel free to contact us for a free consultation. We are experienced behavioral sleep therapists and we can help get your teen’s sleep and mental health back on track.