It’s no secret that success in school is directly tied to the amount of sleep a student is able to get on a given night. No matter whether you are receiving a traditional education or you attend an online high school, students that don’t get enough sleep have a harder time paying attention during class and are less likely to retain the information they are being taught, and that doesn’t even include the health issues at play. But if you are worried about how much sleep your student is getting take heart! There are a number of simple and effective ways that your student can improve his/her sleeping habits and excel academically.
1. Stay away from the caffeine
This one is easier said than done because generally speaking, kids love soda and plenty of college students drink coffee. Most understand that caffeine is a stimulant and will keep people awake when they ingest it. What some might not know is that caffeine is still affecting sleep patterns long after it was ingested. Some think if you drink a bunch of soda before the sun sets and stay away from caffeine at night, then their sleep habits will remain unaffected. But the reality is that caffeine will still affect you many hours afterwards. Look, we aren’t advocating a ban on all caffeinated beverages; we are just saying that by curtailing your student’s daily caffeine intake, you are setting them up for a better night of sleep and a morning where they will feel more refreshed and ready to face the day.
2. Try going to sleep and waking up at the same time everyday
Rhythm is very important when it comes to sleep habits and so waking up and going to bed at the same time everyday helps students establish a rhythm that their body will adjust to and eventually become comfortable with. There are plenty of sleeping disorders that revolve around a person’s inability to get regular intervals of sleep and the last thing you need is for your student to develop one of those. The good news is that with school starting at the same time every day, the waking up portion of the task is relatively easy. It is much harder to ensure that your student is going to bed at the same time every night, but it might be something to consider if you want to ensure your student is at his intellectual best once the school bell rings.
3. Avoid video screens late at night
The amount of entertainment that is available via the Internet or the television or video games is immense. Sometimes, this entertainment is so engrossing that it becomes nearly impossible to pull yourself away from the screen no matter how tired you might be. There are too many times in my past where I have found myself rubbing my eyes and splashing water on my face just so I can spend another hour watching Gone In 60 Seconds again or so I can finish playing a game on the computer that will be there tomorrow when I wake up. The fact of the matter is, sometimes people just can’t help getting sucked in by the bright lights and moving pictures and kids are especially susceptible to this. This can be especially difficult for students who attend things like online elementary schools, but we aren’t saying you should throw your television or computer out of the window, just try to agree on a time when you will shut off all screens and adhere to it.
4. Let them take power naps if they want
Your grandparents aside, the common perception is that the only people who should be napping are kids under the age of six. But in reality, almost everyone can derive some benefit from a nice, 30-45 minute, power nap. So if your student gets home from school bleary-eyed and dragging their feet, suggest they close their eyes and take a nap. The nap can be an excellent way to prevent your student from getting overtired, which will help them fall asleep better at night and will also help them feel rejuvenated when they wake up. Now don’t let your student put his backpack down and conk out on the couch for three hours, but let them have 45 minutes to catch up on some of the sleep they may have missed earlier in the week.
5. Help your student manage his/her stress levels
There is no better deterrent to a good night’s sleep than high levels of stress. As many people can attest to, when are worried, concerned, deep in thought, or just have a lot on your mind, it is very difficult to actually fall asleep. For students, stress is inevitable. Whether it is schoolwork or social pressures, students are going to feel stressed out and one way to help make sure that stress doesn’t translate into less sleep is to help them manage that stress. Help them sort through their issues, play relaxing music, read them a book, whatever you think might help them relieve some stress and get a better night of sleep. This can be difficult to stay on top of because students are often not very forthcoming about the problems in their life, which is why staying proactive about this may help them get their rest and stay positive in school.
Mike Lemaire is an education content editor and writer for Online Schools and you can read his blog on online schooling or find him on Twitter here. For more information email him at email@example.com