Easing Your Teens Into the Back-to-School Schedule

Mention back-to-school preparations, and most parents and their teens think about buying clothes, getting school supplies, and picking up their class schedules. However, there is another important preparation: retraining your teen to follow a school-year sleep schedule. Sleep experts say if you start a few weeks beforehand, the transition from lazy summer mornings to early morning departures won’t be quite as harsh and stressful.

“A week or two before, maybe two weeks, gradually move them over from a summer schedule to a school schedule,” said Dr. Richard Castriotta, director of the division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

“Slowly advance the wake time,” he said. For instance, if your teen generally sleeps in until 12, nudge him or her to arise at 11:45, he said, “so each day, they wake up earlier and earlier.” The goal, of course, is to get them to wake up at the time they need to wake up once school starts.

Parents of teens often say, “Fat chance.” But Castriotta said if you explain why you are doing this, it may help. You might tell them: “If we leave you alone, we’ll be dragging you out of bed” come the first day of school.

By advancing the wakeup time and adjusting the bedtime, you can help them ease into the transition, he said.

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