An increasing number of parents have expressed concerns about their children’s poor sleep patterns. Some children are going to bed late at night for various reasons. There are those who have problems falling asleep and lying awake for hours, with difficulty awakening in the morning, while others may have developed poor habits of watching TV, playing video games, and engaging in other activities past their designated bedtimes.
Whatever the reason, nights of missed sleep over time can cause a sleep deficit. This results in problems studying, concentrating, working effectively, in addition to causing emotional problems like depression.
The following article written by my colleague, Dr. Michael Foxworth II, a pediatrician at HopeHealth Florence Pediatrics addresses healthy sleeping habits.
While school may be winding down, the path to summer is littered with obstacles for adolescents: standardized testing, school projects, final exams, etc. This does not even include the extra-curricular activities in which they may be involved. Your pre-teen or teen is probably worn down by a long school year but is asked to be in peak academic form during this busy time.
Appropriate length and quality of sleep are of utmost importance to be successful. Based on the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), only 31.7 percent of students slept eight or more hours on a school night.
The most recent recommendations of sleep duration from the National Sleep Foundation for teens 14-17 is eight to 10 hours per night. Inadequate sleep resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness in adolescents has been found to have a significant negative effect on school performance, cognitive function, and mood. It has also been found to be associated with an increased incidence of automobile accidents. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in adolescents; and, of those unintentional injuries, automobile accidents make up 73 percent.
Tips for Improving Adolescent Sleep
• Bedtimes should be no later than 10 p.m. on school nights, to ensure eith or more hours of sleep.
• Wake and sleep times should be consistent throughout the week (even on the weekends).
• Adolescents should receive sufficient sleep on the weekends.
• Make the bedroom a place where sleep is the priority. • Remove the TV from the bedroom.
• Do not study on the bed.
• Have a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine.
• Turn off all electronics 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime.
• Exercise daily, but avoid immediately before bedtime.
• Try to eat two to three hours prior to going to sleep.
Adequate sleep for not only academic success, but also for physical and mental health, should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Adolescents should be seen by their medical provider every year for a check-up where they can discuss these issues, along with receiving other important guidance
*The YRBSS is conducted nationally every two years to monitor the prevalence of priority-risk behavior in students who are in grades 9-12. The most recent survey was conducted from September of 2012 to December of 2013.
Dr. Beryl Bachus-Keith has been a pediatrician in Manning for more than 25 years. She always wants to remind readers that "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."