Help Teens Adjust Their Sleeping Patterns BEFORE Back-to-School

The annual focus on back-to-school is again in high gear. As you begin looking for the best sales on supplies and clothing, here’s a reminder not to overlook a critical need for teens to start the new school year off on the right foot: help your kids adjust their sleep cycles to fit the school year schedule before the first day of school.

Summer is a season when teens often experience more freedom in their daily schedules. Typically, they stay up later at night and sleep later during the day in summer than during the school year. By this stage of their summer vacation, kids have gotten out of their typical school routines.

If kids wait until school starts to adjust their sleep cycles, it’s likely they won’t begin with the focus and energy they need in the classroom. “Re-establishing a regular school-time sleep schedule can take several weeks. So, it’s important to start resetting that internal clock early,” said Kris Sekar, medical director of the sleep lab a The Children’s Hospital at Oklahoma State University Medical Center. “A series of small adjustments in the sleep and wake-up times is best and should start right away.”

Current research suggests that most teens don’t get the adequate eight to ten hours of sleep per night that experts suggest, and one study found that a third of teens fall asleep in school twice daily. Teens’ lack of sleep is also linked to poor school performance.

It’s likely that teenagers will want to get every last drop out of their remaining summer freedom, and so parents should expect some resistance in trying to reset their sleeping patterns. But because adequate sleep plays a big factor in academic achievement, parents should wrestle this back-to-school “bear” sooner rather than later.

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has over 35 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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