I was watching college football this weekend. Go Cats! The sportscasters noted that Coach Fitzgerald has his team wear monitors that track their amount and quality of sleep. I remember last year the joke going around that Coach made his team take Cat naps in prep for night games. Northwestern is the only school using this technique…that’s what you get when you mix brains and athletics! Laugh all you want. Coach is on to something.

This topic comes up often in my work with teens, who are notorious for staying up late. They struggle to balance academics, their social life, activities, sports and family time. Often resulting in a lack of sleep. What they fail to realize is that sleep should be a priority. Funny thing, I’m able to get most of the teens that I work with to actually sleep…and I mean to go to bed by 11. How you ask? By letting them in on these two secrets, which probably aren’t really secrets to you and me but are mind-blowing revelations to high school and college kids.

First, when we don’t get enough sleep, we often become cranky, irritable bears. And then what happens…friends don’t want to hang around us, we get into arguments with our family, boyfriends, spouses, etc. What’s the point of family or social time if we’re just miserable.

Second, lack of sleep leads to a lack of focus. Sure you can stay up until 2 in the morning studying but most likely your brain stopped taking material in long ago. And then when you go to take that test at 9am, after only 4 hours of sleep, you’re going to struggle to recall ALL of the material. But, if you had just shut the book earlier and got some sleep, you would have been focused and alert to rock that test. You may not have studied all the material but you would have more effectively recalled the material that you did study.

I start realistic and have the teens try getting more sleep two to three nights a week. Once they figure out it really does work, they’re sold. So take notes from Coach’s playbook and make sure you and your children have a good sleep schedule. Unless of course the Cats are playing a night game…then it’s okay to stay up late 😉