The end of summer is fast approaching, and millions of students are facing the prospect of rising up early to make their daily commute to school. This month, the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine’s Neurodiagnostics and Sleep Science (NDSS) Program, in partnership with mattress-maker Sealy, published helpful tips for successfully transitioning to a back-to-school schedule.
Here are a few of their suggestions for the upcoming school year.
Start adjusting one to two weeks before school begins. Parents should not wait until the last minute before adjusting their children’s bedtime routines. That’s because a gradual shift in sleeping patterns is better than a sudden one. Being a night owl might be fine during most of the summer, but continuing to do so will lead to insufficient sleep during the school year.
It also helps to have a consistent sleeping schedule all throughout the week–both on weekdays and weekends. Following a daily routine will help avoid disrupting your child’s sleeping pattern.
Get sufficient rest. Pulling all-nighters to finish homework might be an accepted practice for procrastinators, but that’s a recipe for deficiency in rest and accumulating sleep debt. School-age children, teens, and college-age students need between 7 to 11 hours of sleep each day based on their age, according to recommendations by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). And younger children typically need more sleep within that range than older teens and college-age students.
Unplug close to bedtime. Generations Y and Z are known to be device-obsessed individuals. But blue light emanating from gadgets have been found to disrupt sleeping patterns, according to a 2014 paper by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Mary Ellen Wells of UNC’s Neurodiagnostics and Sleep Science Program says that “keeping ‘sleep stealers’ out of the bedroom, such as computers, smart phones, TV, etc.,” helps create a relaxing bedtime routine. She adds that the “sleep environment should be restful – meaning dark, quiet, comfortable and not distracting.”
Sleep in the right bed. It’s difficult to get a good night’s rest when you’re physically uncomfortable throughout the night. An appropriate mattress can help ensure a comfortable night’s sleep. Get rid of the hand-me-down mattresses that are old and breaking down in favor of a new mattress like a Sealy Posturepedic that will fully support the user’s back and align the body.
Follow up your sleep with a healthy breakfast. Parents should make their kids’ breakfast a priority, according to UNC’s researchers. Breakfast should involve healthy food served at a consistent time each morning. Additionally, getting sunshine shortly after waking up will help your child synchronize his or her sleep/wake rhythm.