By Sarah Scribner
We’ve all been there – hitting snooze multiple times on our morning alarms. Sometimes, our bodies feel physically stuck under the covers. Before you know it, you’re late for work or other activities.
Indeed, feeling fully rested in the morning has become a foreign concept for many of us. According to the American Sleep Association, 35.3% of adults report getting fewer than seven hours of sleep per night - instead of the suggested nine hours. It’s no wonder we rarely feel rested enough to rise and shine.
Adults aren’t the only ones dealing with sleep deprivation. Teenagers continually face daily exhaustion as a result of long, rigorous school days. In fact, the American Sleep Association suggests that teenagers get at least 10 hours of shut-eye each night. Yet, most only get around five or six hours of rest due to high school early start times and long nights spent toiling over homework assignments. If students return home from extracurricular activities around eight at night, complete upwards of three hours of homework, and wake up at 6 am the next morning, it’s no surprise that they are sleep deprived.
Effects on the Body and Mind
Students lacking an efficient amount of sleep each night are more likely to experience heart disease, weakened immune response, diabetes, illnesses and weight gain. When you mix extreme exhaustion with heightened, intense levels of stress, teenage bodies are destined to go through dangerous changes. In fact, Business Insider stresses that exhaustion is also linked to higher blood pressure, pancreatic stress, and damaged brain cells.
But the problem gets worse. Students are so accustomed to sleep-loss that they often view it as a sign of strenuous work and dedication, rather than a threat to their long-term health. This is why it’s imperative to set aside some time this summer to implement school year changes. In fact, as summer activities draw to a close and back-to-school commercials appear on the television, be sure to talk to your teens about devising a sleeping schedule. Keep in mind that this may mean making some drastic changes to your child’s ingrained sleep habits.
Tips for a Better Night's Sleep
Creating a sleep planner or schedule is a great first step toward helping students track their rest and understand where they fall in the range of suggested hours. On top of this, it’s important that teens sleep for the same amount of recommended hours each night.
Although sleeping for the same amount of time every night can be difficult due to unexpected assignments and other disruptions, several doctors at Harvard Medical School suggest maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule as often as possible. They also advise students to establish a calming pre-sleep routine.
This can entail avoiding screens or harsh lights right before hitting the hay, steering clear of a big meal prior to getting ready for bed, and even exercising regularly throughout the day in order to improve quality of sleep. Yoga is another great practice to help relieve stress, increase focus and promote a sense of overall well-being in teens and children of all ages, says Robyn Parets, founder of Pretzel Kids.
For particular yoga poses that help promote sleep, Parets suggests legs-up-the-wall (viparita karani), a seated forward fold (paschimottanasana), a supine spinal twist (supta matsyendrasana) and, of course, final relaxation pose (savasana).
Back-to-school season is a time of tremendous excitement and stress. But, it does not need to signal the end to restful sleep. It’s never too late to develop healthy sleep and exercise habits. Why not give it a try and start off the school year with your eyes wide open?
Sarah Scribner is a content writer and social media intern at Pretzel Kids