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Health, Nutrition & Fitness        < Previous        Next >


Teen Sleep Deprivation


Q. What's the latest on teenagers and sleep? I've heard that very few of them are getting the sleep they need, and it's hurting them academically.


Teen bodies need nine or 10 hours of sleep per night, but many teenagers just don't feel sleepy until midnight or later. So they do other things in the late evenings and deprive themselves of enough sustained, unbroken sleep.


According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of adolescents complain that they're tired during the school day. No wonder: if they short themselves two or three hours of sleep each night, the consequence may be that they have trouble waking up and feeling great about the school day, and they may doze during class or feel droopy and tired.


What's the cause? They may be oversocializing, or overstimulating themselves with too much TV, music, video games and Instant Messengering. The point is, the further behind a teen falls in sleep, the worse the teen tends to do academically, and the more stressed out, moody and even at risk of motor vehicle accidents the young person will be.


What's the answer? A few districts have discussed starting the high school day an hour later. But that's not popular with "the real world." Individual effort by parents, to help your own child get enough sleep, would go a long way toward helping everybody.


You just have to put your foot down on sleep rules in your home. TV, computer and music must end at 9:30 p.m. The young person can take a warm bath or shower and perhaps have a light, healthy snack before bedtime. Bedtime should be at about 10 p.m. on school nights, and maybe 11 p.m or midnight on weekend nights.


Teach your teen not to take in any caffeine at all during the day, and certainly not in the hours before bedtime. Watch out for caffeine content in chocolate and soda pop, too.


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By Susan Darst Williams Health 03 2008


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