The Importance of Sleep Hygiene
Since March of 2020 we have been experiencing many changes and facing difficulties with adapting to the current restrictions. One of those changes has been eliminating travel time to work and school. As we now work and attend school from home, we have become more relaxed. Without the external pressure of getting up and making ourselves presentable for the day, our collogues/school mates our motivation, in many cases, has lagged.
This lack of motivation has resulted in a relaxed approach in many areas. One area that has now grown into an area of significant impact is high schoolers who stay up late and have a difficult time getting up in the morning. This results in missing or attending class via video and missing assignments. However, those are only surface problems.
The deeper consequences of this new sleep pattern are strained relationships, lower patience levels, poor grades, higher levels of stress, and increased risk of health concerns. Consequences of the past semester are now coming into focus. Each family is experiencing their own unique combination and severity of these consequences.
Moving forward, being intentional about sleep is crucial. With a solid night’s sleep, many of the other challenges we are currently facing can be handled more effectively. When we are tired, our ability to be patient, to think things through, and our motivation drops to minimal levels.
Healthy sleep hygiene is associated with improvements in many areas including better grades, lower anxiety, lower depression, better relationships, and improved motivation. It is no secret that good sleep is best for us, however, is hard is implementing those healthy sleep hygiene skills. As difficult as it may be, getting restorative sleep is the first step in addressing some of those school related issues.
Good sleep hygiene involves creating a regular schedule for getting up in the morning and going to sleep at night. Other helpful ways to improve sleep include eliminating food and exercise two hours before bed time. This allows your body to move into sleep mode. Another important but unpopular factor that results in poor sleep is screen time. The goal is to eliminate screen time two hours before you plan to fall asleep. That being said, reducing screen time is a good place to start. This signals your brain that the time for sleep is approaching. Eliminating caffeine after supper will also improve sleep. As a stimulant, it will keep you awake even if you have a high tolerance and don’t “feel” the effects.
These tips will make an improvement in quality of sleep, but remember that implementing changes like this will take time to adjust. Take it in small steps. When implementing these guidelines with you high schooler, you will need to increase accountability while working with your teen to create strategies together that you both are willing and able to live with.
Students will be returning to in person school again in the future, so it is important to address sleep hygiene now. Returning to these healthy habits will make the transition easier. If you are struggling and discouraged with your teens, start with addressing sleep habits. This will provide a foundation that is solid and productive.
By Eric Hansen