I remember as a teenager feeling the rising anticipation for the arrival of summer each year. Summer meant a reprieve from the daily grind of homework and quizzes, and a break from getting up at the crack of dawn. The downside to the break from the regular school schedule is that teens’ sleep schedules can be thrown off during the summer. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is beneficial to teens’ ability to problem solve, focus, retain information, and detox the brain which are all important for retaining learning from the school year, and performing well at summer jobs. The temptation to stay up all night and sleep through the day can be a strong one, so parents might need to step in to encourage teens to implement these healthy sleeping habits in the summer months:
- Set a regular sleep schedule: Teens should try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. Weekends can be a little more flexible, but they should still try and wake up within two hours of their normal wakeup time.
- Keep a nightly routine: Taking some time to relax before bed can make it easier for teens to fall asleep faster. This may mean deciding on a set time to turn off the television, put down the smartphone, and read a book to settle in. It can be harder for teens to fall asleep at night because their circadian rhythm is set for falling asleep and getting up later than for adults, which is why setting a nightly routine is so important for creating a healthy sleep schedule.
- Get plenty of rest: Teens should set a goal of getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night. As many as 16 percent of adolescents have delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) which causes an even greater delay in their circadian rhythm – it’s often hard for individuals with this syndrome to fall asleep until after midnight. Lack of sleep can negatively affect a teen’s ability to focus and complete activities during the day, so a doctor should be consulted if symptoms of DSPS arise. Symptoms are often difficulty falling asleep at the desired bedtime, excessive difficulty waking up and extreme daytime sleepiness, and depression or behavioral problems.
Summer is a perfect time for teenagers to settle into a regular sleep schedule and test out different ways to wind down at night. By using the summer as a way to establish a solid sleep schedule, teens set themselves up for a more focused, productive and well-rested school year.