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Good Guidance with Silke Hetherington Teens and Sleep

20/02/2014
 
         Good Guidance
with Silke Hetherington
 
 
Teens and Sleep
 
 
Sleep is food for the brain. During sleep, important body functions and brain activity occur. Skipping sleep can be harmful — even deadly, particularly if you are behind the wheel. You can look bad, you may feel moody, and you perform poorly. Sleepiness can make it hard to get along with your family and friends and hurt your scores on school exams, on the court or on the field.
 
  • Sleep is vital to your well-being, as important as the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. It can even help you to eat better and manage the stress of being a teen.
 
  • Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence -- meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm.
  • Teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night to function best (for some, 8 1/2     hours is enough). Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15%     reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week — they typically stay up late and sleep in late on the weekends, which can affect their biological clocks and hurt the quality of their sleep.
 
Consequences:
 

Not getting enough sleep or having sleep difficulties can:

 

  • Limit your ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems. You may even forget important information like names, numbers, your homework or a date with a special person in your life;
  • Make you more prone to pimples. Lack of sleep can contribute to acne and other skin problems;
  • Lead to aggressive or inappropriate behaviour such as yelling at your friends or being impatient with your teachers or family members;
  • Cause you to eat too much or eat unhealthy foods like sweets and fried foods that lead to weight gain.
  • Contributes to illness, and not using equipment safely.
 
Solutions:
 
  • Make sleep a priority!
  • Naps can help pick you up and make you work more efficiently, if you plan them right. Naps that are too long or too close to bedtime can interfere with your regular sleep.
  • Make your room a sleep haven. Keep it cool, quiet and dark. If you need to, get eyeshades or blackout curtains. Let in bright light in the morning to signal your body to wake up.
  • No pills, vitamins or drinks can replace good sleep. Consuming caffeine close to bedtime can hurt your sleep, so avoid coffee, tea, soda/pop and chocolate late in the day so you can get to sleep at night. Nicotine and alcohol will also interfere with your sleep.
  • Establish a bed and wake-time and stick to it, coming as close as you can on the weekends. A consistent sleep schedule will help you feel less tired since it allows your body to get in sync with its natural patterns. You will find that it’s easier to fall asleep at bedtime with this type of routine.
  • Don’t eat, drink, or exercise within a few hours of your bedtime. Don’t leave your homework for the last minute. Try to avoid the TV, computer and telephone in the hour before you go to bed. Stick to quiet, calm activities, and you’ll fall asleep much more easily!
 
If you do the same things every night before you go to sleep, you teach your body the signals that it’s time for bed. Try taking a bath or shower (this will leave you extra time in the morning), or reading a book.
 
Research shows that lack of sleep affects mood, and a depressed mood can lead to lack of sleep. To combat this vicious cycle, sleep experts recommend that teens prioritize sleep and focus on healthy sleep habits. Teens can start by getting the 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep they need each night, keeping consistent sleep and wake schedules on school nights and weekends, and opting for relaxing activities such as reading or taking a warm shower or bath before bed instead of turning on the TV or computer.
 
"The earlier parents can start helping their children with good sleep habits, the easier it will be to sustain them through the teen years."