If you’re a teen on the fast track to success, you likely have a “zero period,” that extra class in the school day just for high achievers. While the subjects may vary—leadership skills, extra sports training or music classes—one thing remains the same: All zero periods are early morning classes. You need to be up at the crack of dawn, out the door in a rush and in the classroom before 7 a.m.
The extra classroom time is great … when you’re prepared.
Here are three smart ways to overcome the most common challenges that prevent you from feeling rested and ready to learn during your zero period:
Challenge #1: Getting enough sleep
You may feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything on your daily list AND get enough sleep. By the time you get home from school and afternoon sports or other activities, eat dinner and finish all your homework, it can be 8 p.m. or later. And, bedtime is right around the corner.
- Solution: Be smart with your time. First, pay close attention in school. If possible, finish any assignments while in class. Next, don’t be tempted to skimp on sleep. If you are a teen you’ll need about 9 hours of rejuvenating sleep every night. Your brain is actively converting new information into lasting memory during these important hours (for more details, see our post The Real Power of Sleep for Active Teens). Finally, think long term and avoid finishing big projects at the last minute. Be an efficient time manager, so that you can do all the things you really want and still get enough sleep.
Challenge #2: Forgetting something important for school
The mad rush during the wee hours of the morning can leave your brain foggy and forgetful.
- Solution: The night before, place your backpack by the door and include everything you need in it, just in case you have to rush out the door the next morning. This can include PE clothes, homework assignments, school forms, money for lunch or a smoothie or whatever else is on your need-to-have list.
Challenge #3. Having enough time to eat a good breakfast
It can be tough to get up early in the morning, especially when it’s pitch black outside. You may be tempted to hit the snooze button, but then you’ll need to bolt out of bed to get ready, leaving little time for breakfast.
- Solution: Look for ways to make up some time in the morning. If you are being driven to school, grab your breakfast and eat it in the car. Think portable such as oatmeal (in a deep bowl or cup so that it doesn’t spill), hot chocolate and a small crunchy apple. Toast with peanut butter and applesauce and a yogurt is another option. Even a breakfast bar can do in a pinch (for details, see our post 7 Tips to Choose a Healthier Breakfast Bar). Just remember to grab something substantial to help power you through your morning classes. Consider stashing some xylitol-containing gum in the car to help keep your teeth and breath fresh and minty clean … and your friends near. (For a list of our best picks, see our post For Teens Only: Chewing Gum—the Good and the Bad).
I call this “the three B’s”—bedtime, backpack and breakfast—and it is three smart ways to make sure you reach your full potential. Stay tuned for Part 2 with more tips.
What you put on your daily plate may not always be enough to fully nourish your body and brain. To help fill in any nutrient gaps between what your body and brain need and what your food provides, consider taking a high-quality multivitamin every day.
Have a great day at school, have fun and learn lots!
Co-author of Eating for A’s
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PS – Teens, we’re here to help you on your quest to be the best you. If you have any questions or need additional information, just drop us a note and join us on Facebook. Take it one day at a time. Soon you’ll reach your goal. Work hard, play hard, study hard, and have fun! Good luck, the EatingFor Team is cheering you on!