Summer Sleep Schedule: Why It’s Important and How to Improve It

Summer Sleep Schedule: Why Its Important and How to Improve It

   As the month of June begins, summer break is fast approaching. Along with other exciting summer activities such as trips to the pool, being able to sleep in during the week is just a few school days away. Although this is something to look forward to, an obvious downside to having more time to sleep in the morning is being compelled to stay awake later at night. This often causes teenagers to stop adhering to whatever sleep schedule they had been following during the school year, which typically leads to getting less sleep or sleeping at inconvenient times. Because sleep is so important for the mind and body to function, the freedom of summer break often has adverse effects on high school students by making their transition back to school in the fall much more difficult. Here are three tips to keep a consistent sleep schedule in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle once summer break begins.


Tip #1: Avoid too much activity before bed.

   One of the many great aspects of summer break is having more time to spend with friends and family throughout the day. However, it’s also     important to find time to relax and decompress in addition to spending time with others. Research conducted by Oregon State University shows that people who engage in loud or exhausting activities right before going to bed have more restless sleep, while those who practice a relaxing routine before bed have an easier time falling and staying asleep. Potentially harmful activities to do before bed can include excessive exercise, being surrounded by conditions that are too noisy, and looking at bright lights (including blue light from devices). These should be replaced by calming activities to promote better sleep. A few examples are listening to soothing music, reading a book, and light stretching.


Tip #2: Try to set a consistent bedtime.

   Staying consistent with the time you begin a nighttime routine is a difficult task even during the school year. But with the unexpected plans that can come with the freedom of summer break, it’s especially important to adhere to a specific bedtime. Although it’s preferable to set an earlier bedtime, sometimes that isn’t a realistic goal during the summer. However, staying consistent to a slightly later time can still be just as beneficial for the body. This is because following a consistent routine each night trains your body to release melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, around your scheduled bedtime. Additionally, getting a consistent amount of sleep each night allows the body to align with its circadian rhythm (the body’s physical and mental changes over a 24-hour cycle) which can improve memory and alertness during the day. 


Tip #3: Gradually adjust to a new schedule when needed.

   As many students know, one of the hardest parts about returning to school in the fall is having to go from sleeping in during the week to waking up earlier. Especially in cases where someone didn’t have any structure around a sleep schedule throughout the summer, transitioning to a stricter sleep schedule can be very difficult. One way this can be helped is by adjusting gradually each morning to waking up at an earlier time. Setting an alarm for five minutes earlier, then increasing that amount by another five minutes each day, can allow the body to get used to waking up without the hassle of trying to adjust last-minute.