Balancing Homework and Sleep

By Dr. Ashley Moss

“Striking the right balance between sleep and homework for adolescents is a challenge for most parents. Insufficient sleep can lead to health related consequences such as depression, increased obesity, and higher rates of drowsy driving accidents.  (2014 AAP Technical Report, “Insufficient Sleep in Adolescents and Young Adults”)  Completing homework assignments in a timely and thorough manner are also important to achieving success in school. The best way to help adolescents manage the balance between sleep and homework is to start by making a weekly schedule that includes after school activities, meals, and designated study times. It’s important to also outline healthy study habits that will improve the quality and efficiency of study time.

Take advantage of time during the school day, free periods at school, even long bus rides that provide a time to do reading homework. Set clear limits on non- school related screen time.  Children should be encouraged to employ self-discipline and not use the cell phone, surf the web, or text while studying.  Parents should ensure that this happens.  Media is not only a major time distraction and hindrance to completing homework, but is also stimulating, especially late at night, and a major cause of nighttime insomnia.

Parents should also encourage their children to maintain good sleep hygiene. In addition to limiting screen time in the evening, setting a consistent bed time, limiting caffeine, establishing a bedtime routine, and doing something relaxing 15 minutes before going to bed are good ways to encourage healthy sleep habits.  A well-rested teen is more likely to focus better in school, complete homework more efficiently, and be happier overall.