Balancing School, Homework, and Sleep for Your Teen

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation.

These real-world tricks will help your teen find sleep-life balance.

Finding room for sleep is no small feat for teens who often have homework, extra-curriculars, friends, and a part-time job all eating away at their time. An average teen should sleep about nine hours a night, but most get closer to seven-and-a-half. Try using the following tips to help your teen clock those nine hours between the sheets each night and live a healthy, balanced life.

  • Prioritize.

    Help your teen pinpoint which tasks are most important (such as studying for the mid-term versus taking on an extra shift at his or her job this week). Work with your teen to map out a realistic schedule that sets aside specific times to get the necessities done. For instance, writing "do math homework from 5:00pm to 5:30pm on Tuesday" on the calendar may help your teen manage his or her time better than simply writing "do math homework" on a weekly to-do list. Also, try to consolidate responsibilities into large chunks to boost efficiency. After all, taking lots of 15-minute breaks between tasks adds up.

  • Be a Realist.

    In order for your teen to excel at one or two things, he or she will likely have to learn to let go of other things. For example, it’s not realistic to think that he or she can take the lead in the school play, be class president, play three seasons of varsity sports, get straight A's, and get enough sleep. Instead, ask your teen to focus on one or two big goals. This will make the goals feel less overwhelming and more within reach.

  • Let Go of Stress.

    Stress is a normal response to life, especially when you have a lot of things on your plate. Teach your teen to build in activities that will help her tame tension, such as going for a jog, talking to her friends, or reading fiction. Feeling less anxious will make nodding off to dreamland a whole lot easier. Remember that parents can also add to stress—so try to set a good example by leading a healthy, balanced life yourself.

  • Clock an Extra Hour in the Sack.

    Students who sleep for 60 extra minutes get higher grades, have improved alertness and mood, and visit the student health center 20 percent less often. Find a way for your teen to go to bed an hour earlier each night. After you help him or her prioritize and consolidate tasks, as well as get rid of any unnecessary activities, (see above), it may be easier than it sounds to find this space in your teen's day.

  • Keep a Sleep Schedule.

    Teens and young adults are the most likely to sleep the weekends away, but this dramatic change in their sleep-wake schedule could actually be harmful come Sunday night. Encourage your teen to wake up within an hour of their normal routine on weekends to prevent difficulty sleeping on Sunday nights.

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