How to Help Teens Stay Awake at School


How to Help Teens Stay Awake at School

How to Help Teens Stay Awake at School

SoalSMA - How to Help Teens Stay Awake at School - Teenagers need an average of nine to 11 hours of sleep, while older adults need eight to 10 hours of sleep, experts say.  But with increased screen time, academic workloads, social pressures, and elementary school hours — among other things — sleep is often much less likely. 

Lack of sleep can cause teenagers to be cranky during the school day, causing learning gaps and disruption in the classroom.

"Sleep is very restorative and promotes optimal mental health. And getting enough sleep is very important for your overall well-being," said Dr.  Hina Talib, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at the Atria Institute, New York City's primary and preventive care.  "Teenagers, as an age group, have a chronic lack of sleep. And unfortunately, there are some unwanted side effects due to lack of sleep, which include scary things like an increase in risk. It can include having problems at school, not doing well on exams. or not completing homework, can also affect mental health.

Here are tips on how teachers can help their high school students stay awake during the school day, and what teens and parents can do to develop healthy sleep habits.

What can teachers do?

Allow time for brain breaks

Experts recommend that students take breaks during class to stand, stretch, or find a peer to talk to for a few minutes. 

"I think a lot of times we think of movement breaks and sensory stimulation as something to do in elementary school," said Jessica Sam, a special education teacher at Stagecoach Elementary School in Arkansas. We hope they will participate."

Encourage cooperation in the classroom

Instead of listening to an entire class lecture, students should be given time to collaborate with their peers, experts say. 

"We're partnering and giving them an opportunity to be meaningful members of their education," Saum says.  "Having them work with different people in the classroom forces movement so it's easier to stay awake." 

What young people and parents can do 

Communicate needs clearly

Falling asleep in class is often seen as a behavior issue and can cause tension between teacher and student. 

"If a teacher sees a student disengaged or sleepy, it can create a simple natural bias," Saum says.  They may have valid excuses.  There may be things going on at home or they may have to work late.  But if the teacher doesn't know the student and doesn't know the story, all they see is someone who doesn't care or is engaged in their education." 

Therefore, students should take ownership of why they are sleeping in class, especially if the behavior is normal, with the teacher or principal.  Experts say it may be related to disease or other health issues and may be beyond the student's control. 

"Be comfortable naming when you're struggling so that you and your teacher can find a way to argue, which makes it easier for them to pay attention and focus by standing or using some kind of alternative seating. So that you can succeed academically," Saum said. 

Limit screen time 

Many young people play video games or scroll through social networks at night to meet friends and have fun after school.  But the light disrupts your ability to fall asleep, says Talib, not to mention that minutes can turn into hours before you know it. 

"I think this also affects how they can regulate themselves to sleep," she says.  "And it's not their fault. These devices are engaged. And the light they emit goes against your biology, causing you to feel more awake than you should when the wind starts to drop and you feel sleepy." 

So instead of relying on cell phones for entertainment, experts recommend that teenagers read a book or listen to music before bed.  Teens may consider buying an alarm clock instead of using the device on their phone to keep their devices away at night. 

"Keep your phone out of your room," says Dr.  Samuel Knee, MD, medical director of the Center for Sleep and Breathing Disorders at St. Peter's University Hospital in New Jersey and director of pediatric sleep medicine.  "If you really need your phone, you can always just turn it off and turn it back on in the morning."

Parents can play a role by enforcing limits on technology use at night and keeping devices out of teens' bedrooms. 

Teach time management skills

Some teenagers feel pressured to cram for an exam the night before, while others have to pull an all-nighter to finish an assignment after traveling.  Experts advise parents and teachers to know the amount of work that teenagers do and to teach them how to manage their time. 

"When you go from elementary to middle and then middle to high school, there are big jumps. Expectations change quickly and our students aren't always ready for the new responsibilities," says Saum.  "Sometimes we're going to give them some extra guidance and a schedule so they can practice those experiences and learn and complete their work so they can be successful on their own.

Prepare the night before

To save time in the morning, teenagers can prepare for school the night before.  This includes sorting clothes, making their lunches and packing their bags. 

This arrangement can increase the amount of time a toddler falls asleep in the morning by just 15 to 20 minutes, experts say.

Take ownership of your health

Teenagers should be aware of all the drinks and foods they eat at night.  For example, drinking caffeinated beverages like sweet tea or coffee later in the day can make it harder to fall asleep. 

Exercise and movement should be a priority for teenagers to keep their bodies feeling more relaxed. 

"When they focus on their diet, exercise and sleep, they can easily feel better and engage in class," says Saum. 

Use the bedroom only for sleeping

A person's bedroom should be used only for sleeping — if possible — rather than watching television, playing video games or doing work, experts say. 

"It shouldn't be seen as a stimulating environment," says Energy. 

He added that if teenagers want to finish their homework in their room, it is better to study at the table instead of sleeping in bed.  Teenagers should set their bedroom to a cool temperature and avoid exposure to bright light at night. 

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule

It can be easy for teenagers to stay up late on weekends if they don't have any prior commitments, but try to keep a consistent schedule. 

Some experts say it's okay to nap or sleep in for an hour or two on the weekend. 

"We're looking at average sleep during the week, so it's okay to catch up," Talib said.  "But Sunday is not the best day to catch up because you have to get up again on Monday morning. So Saturday is the best time to catch up."

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