When I ask my students about their plans for the weekend, I hear “SLEEP!” more than any other activity. At first, I thought it was a fluke – like it must have been a full moon or something that caused so many kids to tell me they were tired that day. Then, after taking notes after meeting with teens from different schools, socio-economic backgrounds, and levels of popularity, I am now convinced that sleep is the biggest problem students have in school.
First, schools start far too early. Most teens are up doing homework until 10:00-11:00 pm, and then they’re on their phones until the wee hours of the night texting friends. If they also play video games, they may be up when the sun rises – and sadly, parents don’t know because kids won’t divulge info that will cause them to lose privileges. Yup, they’re smarter than we are.
That’s why when I designed the schedule for Merit Academy, classes start at 9:00 am. So even when kids are up until midnight, they can still get at least 7 hours of sleep. Besides, students perform better midmorning and early afternoon so why start classes at 7:30 or 8:00 am?
I just read a great article about all kinds of non-drug sleep aids on the market. THIM is a small device that you wear on a finger that trains your body to fall asleep sooner and sleep longer. During the training period, it actually wakes you up as you fall sleep to retrain your body to fall asleep.
There’s another device called Dreem. You can take a quick survey to determine what type of sleeper you are and get tips on how to improve your sleep. Their new technology will be available this summer.
“Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body,” Dr. Walker of U.C. Berkeley said. And every teen needs to embrace this. Because they are teens, they are not looking at the big picture and really need their parents to step in to give them healthy guidelines to develop good sleep habits. These tools can lead to less stress and more clairvoyance – and we do want them to be happy, don’t we?