A frustrated mom called us for help with her son who was failing AP Statistics. She was confused about the cause of the problem because he was a strong math student, and he had done well in the past. After reaching out to the teacher, the issue became clear instantly. Scott was failing AP Stats because he was asleep during the entire first period class.
Our students are juggling school work, social lives, extracurricular activities and jobs. They feel the pressure of making sure they have good looking transcripts for college applications, and they are often spread way too thin. They are often up until late finishing work or having some down time. They aren’t getting enough sleep; and when they don’t get enough sleep, they have a more difficult time learning and retaining information.
Even though there may not be much we can do to slow them down, we can try to help ensure that they get a good night’s sleep. You may not be able to convince your student to do all of these things, but these ideas will all contribute to better sleep.
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time.
This helps set your internal clock to your daily schedule, and let’s your body know that it is time to sleep. It is recommended by the National Sleep Foundation that children ages six to thirteen have 9 – 11 hours of sleep, and teenagers fourteen to seventeen have 8 – 10 hours of sleep.
Pay attention to what you eat before you go to bed.
Sleep research indicates that you should avoid eating spicy foods, chocolate, or caffeine before you go to bed. It is also recommended to not eat big meals and to not drink too many liquids at night. Nighttime snacks like half a turkey sandwich, a banana, or granola with milk or yogurt can help you sleep better.
Evaluate your bedroom.
When going to bed, make sure that your bedroom is quiet, cool, and dark. If you cannot eliminate the noises in your house, try using earplugs. Try to keep the temperature between 60-67 degrees, and try black or dark curtains to keep the room dark.
Take short naps.
Power naps can be beneficial in giving you more energy to perform daily tasks. A twenty-minute power nap can help enhance motor skills and attention. Make sure to put enough time in between a power nap and bedtime so that it doesn’t wind up keeping you awake.
Engage in physical exercise.
The intensity of the physical exercise can range from vigorous activity to just going for a walk. Ten minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can dramatically improve your quality of sleep. Exercise helps you sleep more deeply.
Expose yourself to natural light during the day.
Light exposure controls the hormone melatonin to help your sleeping and waking up cycle. By immersing yourself in sunshine and light, you will feel more awake and less tired. Bright lights help manage your circadian rhythms so that you can be awake and asleep at the right times.
Turn off technology before going to bed!
Turning off bright screens within 1-2 hours before bedtime will help you get to sleep. This includes the blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer, or television. These bright lights suppress melatonin and create a visual stimulant that keeps the brain going when you are trying to wind down.