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Teenagers, School and Sleep

January 04, 2017


Getting teenagers back to school and back to sleep

Soon schools will be opening again and the struggle to get your teenagers to bed early enough is on. Often teenagers make this effort so difficult for parents that parents just capitulate and let them go to bed whenever they want, even if it means they wake up with difficulty in time to get to school. The question,it seems, is ‘How crucial is it really for teenagers to get good quality sleep?’

Teens and Sleep

Many essential body and brain functions are executed during sleep. Sleep is fuel for the brain. Not getting enough sleep is detrimental to your health and can even be deadly, particularly if you operate machinery or drive a car. Other results of too little zz’s is the impact on your looks, moodiness, poor performance, getting along with your friends and family members, poor test results or bad performance on the sports field.

Below are a few facts you could share with your teenager:

Sleep is as vital to your health and overall- well-being as food, water and air. Quality sleep has been proven to assist with better stress management and healthier eating habits.

During adolescence it is natural for sleeping patterns to change towards falling asleep later, even as much as not being able to fall asleep before 11:00pm.

A recent study reported that only 15% of teenagers get an average of 81/2 hours sleep where a teen needs around 8 ½ to 9 ¼ hours of sleep on school nights.

To compound this these youngsters have the habit of keeping irregular sleep patterns by going to bed very late on weekends and then getting up after noon. This affects their biological clocks which in term affects the quality of their overall sleep.

Often young adults also suffer from sleeping disorders, such as sleep apnea, restless legs, insomnia or narcolepsy, which are all treatable.

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?

The list of the effects of getting too little sleep or bad quality sleep, is quite intimidating:

  • Increase your appetite for sweet foods and fried foods, leading to weight problems

  • Heighten the effects of alcohol consumption

  • Increased consumption of caffeine and use of nicotine

  • Influence your social behaviour such as being more intolerant towards friends, teachers and family members

  • Make you more prone to pimples, acne and various other skin problem.

  • Limiting your ability to solve problems, concentrate, listen and learn

  • Make you more forgetful

  • Increased risk of driving or operating heavy equipment while drowsy


WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS?

If you want to stay happy, healthy and smart, your priority should be to GET SLEEP. Keep a sleep diary or use one of the many available sleep apps to keep track of your sleeping patterns.

Teenagers like naps, but make sure that naps are planned and not too long or close to your regular bedtime.

Your bedroom is be the ideal sleeping place. Cool, dark and quiet. Use blackout curtains or eyeshades if you need to but also remember to let sunlight into your room in the morning. Your body needs this signal to wake up properly.

It is a well-known fact that nicotine, alcohol and caffeine can interfere with sleep, especially consumed close to bedtime. Avoid these substances, including tea, soda/pop and chocolate before bedtime. Remember, no drinks, vitamins, or pills are a substitute for quality sleep.

Did you know that driving when you are drowsy is the same as driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%? Rather call a buddy than driving ‘under the influence’ of sleep deprivation.

By establishing a consistent schedule for going to bed and waking up you allow your body to get into sync with its own natural patterns and eventually it will become easier and easier to fall asleep when

And yes, telling a teenager to avoid the TV, computer and phone an hour before they go to bed, might sound impossible, but reconsider the consequences above and it might just be the right motivation! Rather try taking a bath or shower before going to bed and reading a book instead of checking up on your Facebook feed.

Most teens experience changes in their sleep schedules. Their internal body clocks can cause them to fall asleep and wake up later. You can’t change this, but you can participate in interactive activities and classes to help counteract your sleepiness. Make sure your activities at night are calming to counteract your already heightened alertness.

It is normal for teenagers to experience changing sleep schedules, causing them to fall asleep and wake up later than usual. This often is in conflict with school hours because you have to wake up before you had adequate sleep. At least try to make sure whatever you do at night, especially before bedtime is a calming activity to counteract high alertness and ensure that the sleep you do get is quality sleep.


Well Mom and Dad, while sharing the above with your teenager, take the time to ensure that the bed they are sleeping on assists in quality sleep. Need advise? Contact one of our sleep experts today.


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