The most important thing to include in our routines are a set sleep schedule! We may not realize it, but going to bed and waking up around the same time each night and morning can show great benefits to both our physical and mental health. In humans, our circadian rhythms help our minds and bodies maintain an internal “clock” that tells us when it is time to eat, sleep, rest and work in a world that makes a full circle about every 24 hours. Our external cues from the environment, such as sunlight, combine with our genes to create and maintain this steady hum of activity. However, adolescents have a lengthened circadian cycle which decreases the rhythm’s sensitivity to light in the morning. These changes cause teens to fall asleep later each night and wake up later each morning compared to most children and adults. Having a “bed time” helps your body send signals to your brain when it’s time to go to sleep so you aren’t laying awake all night. It also keeps your body from feeling as exhausted the next day. It is important to keep a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends, to make falling asleep and waking up easier as well as to make the sleep we get more effective to our energy levels.
Another important thing to add to our schedules and routines is self-care! This includes hobbies, time with loved ones, and taking care of responsibilities we may often put off, like doing the laundry. It can be easy to procrastinate in high school, but keeping a daily routine and schedule for our responsibilities helps us stay organized. Finding the momentum needed to get school work done after a long week can be difficult, which is exactly why scheduling time to do your homework can make the tasks easier. Likewise, taking care of ourselves by doing things that are just for us aren’t nearly as beneficial unless they are included in your routine! Doing so will give you something to look forward to throughout the week/days and will keep you from having to prioritize self-care or chores over the other.
Research shows that scheduling our days and building routines increases our motivation and productivity. If you don’t have a set routine, sit down for a little while and write down the schedule you already have, such as when you wake up and leave for school! Make time for the important things like sleep, self-care, and studying. Remember, practice makes perfect, and it’s okay if you miss a beat! Just keep trying and pick up where you leave off. Before you know it, your circadian rhythm will be thanking you in no time.
Stay healthy, chaps!
-Katie, Alex and Annie