September 14, 2022 – Like many parents of teens, LaToya S. is concerned about her son Sleeps Habits. In the first weeks of pandemicWhen her 13-year-old had no way to connect with friends, she ditched some of her typical rules about screen time. It wasn’t long before her son’s bedtime started to creep in later, and then, he started playing video games with friends until the wee hours, and a good night’s sleep went out the window. Two years later, LaToya is still working on getting him back to normal sleep patterns.
There is good reason for her efforts. The relationship between poor sleep habits and poor health well established. For teens, that can mean lower grades and higher averages mood disordershigh risk of drug abuse, and more.
“When he went back to school after lockdown, we started to see the effects of his disrupted sleep patterns,” says Latoya. “Teachers were noticing that, after the first two hours, he was falling asleep in class. He started falling behind, especially in classes that required extra effort. We realized we had to make changes.”
The study, written by Jesus Martinez Gomez, a training researcher in the Cardiovascular Imaging Laboratory at the Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research, looked at the relationship between sleep duration and health in more than 1,200 adolescents, split equally between boys and girls. . The researchers began measuring sleep at age 12, then repeated the exercise at age 14 and 16. Each time, the subjects in the study wore the activity trackers for 7 days.
Besides sleep measurements, the researchers measured BMI (body mass index) throughout the study period. They also calculated scores of things that could increase the odds of developing heart disease and other conditions, from negative (healthy) values to positive (unhealthy) values. The researchers also measured and tracked waist size, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend Teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 consistently sleep between 8 and 10 hours a night for optimal health. But the Spanish study found that at age 12, only 34% of study participants achieved a full 8 hours of sleep per night. When participants reached 14, that number dropped to 23%, and at 16, it dropped to 19%. Link data for overweight and obesity, at 12 years of age, 21% falling into this category; At 14, the number rose to 24%; By 16, when sleep was at its lowest, the number had risen to 27%.
Laura Stearney, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Sleep Center, isn’t surprised by these findings. “We fail to make sure that teens get enough sleep,” she says. “There are a number of contributing factors, and the adverse effect is significant.”
When it comes to the obesity link, lack of sleep as a cause has yet to be investigated, but it is likely.
“Right now, it’s about correlation rather than causation, but parents should consider association,” says Bruce Bassi, MD, medical director and founder of TelepsychHealth, an online treatment provider. “All the influences that come with it sleep deprivation It is exactly the opposite of what you want. Sleep deprivation affects aspects of our little brains — we get cranky and seek a sedative, and sometimes that’s food.”
“We’re getting more data all the time” about finding that sleep deprivation leads to obesity, Stearney says. “The risk factors for obesity appear to be dose-responsive.”
In fact: As the Spanish study showed, the less sleep a teen gets, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese.
“We know that lack of sleep leads to changes in hormone control and important metabolic markers,” Stearney says. “It affects the hormones that make us feel full by lowering them, and vice versa hunger rise.”
Stearney explains that lack of sleep also affects how the body metabolizes glucose, leads to insulin resistance, and makes eating poor carbohydrates more attractive to the body.
“Then there’s the fact that when you’re running late, you have a higher chance of eating, and perhaps mindlessly snacking on bad foods in front of screens,” she says. “You feel sleepy during the day, so you tend not to Playing sports, also. Lifestyle factors are woven into the picture.”
It is well known that today’s teens are also busy, and this discourages consistency and regularity bed time Habits. Social and sports activities, club and school commitments can delay bedtimes and wake up early. Add all that up, and a lack of sleep can leave teens with lifelong health problems, many of them due to an unhealthy weight.
How do you help your teen?
While the data can be factual, there are important ways that parents can help their teenage children develop better sleep habits.
“The good news is that there is some data that shows that if families and young adults learn the importance of sleep, they will listen and work to maintain healthy sleep habits,” Stearney says. “It’s as important as brushing your teeth, and you should always work to get adequate amounts.”
Pacey says one of the most logical places to start is to encourage early bedtime.
He suggests: “For most teens, the sleep-end sign is fixed by school, so focus instead on when they get to bed.” “Encourage better sleep habits and reduce stimulation before bed.”
That means forming good screen time habits, which is a big part of the approach taken by Greg F and his partner. The parents of a 15- and 17-year-old have set hard and fast rules for their devices.
“They can only use their phones in public areas of the house, and they have to turn them off at 8:45 p.m.,” Greg explains. “In the morning, they can’t use their phones until all the housework and breakfast are done. We think it’s best that they sleep on the front and back before they have phones on hand.”
Exercising during the day can also improve your teen’s odds of getting ready for bed at a reasonable hour in the evening. with both active kids In sports, this is another box that the Greg family is checking out.
“Parents can also show off their good habits,” Pacey suggests. “Positively reinforce your guidance by shutting down your own screens in the evening.”
Greg responds to that advice.
“We don’t have a TV in our bedrooms, we sleep early and open a book before bed,” he says.
The siesta is another area worth visiting. As many parents of teens know, this is an age group that loves to take naps when they can.
“I’m not against napping,” Stearney says. But, he says, “limit a 45-minute nap to an hour, and try to prevent your teen from napping too close to bedtime.”
While there are plenty of areas to work with teens and sleep habits, Stearney recommends starting with one or two, rather than taking them all at once.
“You won’t get it all done right away,” she says. “Just work towards the goal of 8 hours on average, but you need to get there.”
For LaToya, the work on improving her son’s sleep habits isn’t over yet, but she’s seeing progress. The family set their router off clocks, set a bedtime for 10pm, and even gave their son an old-fashioned alarm clock to replace his phone alarm in his room. As habits improve, they may reconsider some of the rules.
“We’ve come to realize that teens need incentives for positive behavior just as much as younger children,” she says. “Our consistency pays off, and we’re patient as it progresses.”