The teacher dims the lights and hits play. As the dry narrator unenthusiastically explains the lifecycle of the bumblebee, your teen’s eyelids become heavier and heavier. Before he knows it, he’s out like a light. While a teen who is continually dozing off in class may be a major annoyance to parents, it’s not always the teen’s fault. As Madison Park reported for CNN, during adolescence, children’s circadian rhythms change, which can result in erratic and unpredictable sleep patterns. At fault or not, however, it is vital that your student stays awake from bell-to-bell. Help increase the likelihood that your teen’s school hours are waking ones by employing some simple tips.
Teens who fall asleep constantly in class commonly aren’t getting enough sleep at night. The most effective thing you can do to combat this problem is exert greater control on your teen’s bedtime. Send him to bed earlier, and make sure he actually goes to sleep, to improve the chances that he gets the night’s rest he needs to be attentive at school the next day.
Reduce Caffeine Consumption
If your studious teen is trying to fight the mid-class sleepies, he may turn to caffeine. While a few swigs of an energy drink or a bold cup of coffee may make getting through one class period, it will not help him in the long run, says MayoClinic.com. Consuming caffeine throughout the day will upset your teen’s natural sleep cycles, likely negative impacting his evening rest and leaving him more tired the next day.
If your teen zonks out on the sofa when he gets home from school, take note. These late-afternoon "zzzs" may be his problem. Discourage your teen from napping, as sleeping late in the day will take the edge off of his exhaustion and likely prevent him from falling asleep as easily come bedtime, states WebMD.
Unplug Your Teen
Your teen’s room likely contains substantially more distractions than your room housed during your teen years. If your teen has his own TV, video games and cell phone, he may be allowing these distractions to get in the way of getting a good night’s sleep. If reports that your teen is sleeping in school are frequent, consider taking these tech distractions out of his room to improve the chances that, when you send him to bed, he actually goes to sleep.
Champion a Late Start
You can’t always control the time that your student starts his school day, but if you want to make a lasting change that will potentially help prevent not just your teen but also his peers from dozing off, consider advocating for a later start time. As sleep specialist John Cline, Ph.D, says for Psychology Today, later school-day start times lead to improved grades, reduced rates of school nurse visits and even a reduction in the number of students napping in class.
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