Fixed bedtime, sufficient sleep may lead to healthier teens

Youths with age-appropriate bedtimes at age 9 had longer self-reported sleep duration and lower body mass index at age 15, compared with those who didn’t have bedtime routines, researchers reported in the journal Sleep. The findings also associated optimal bedtime and sleep routines in childhood with adequate sleep duration in adolescence.

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Free Resources to Support Healthy Sleep for Children

Better sleep leads to better performance. In the classroom, on the field, and in life. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Sleep Number campaign, Sleep Smarter. Perform Better. campaign, is designed to raise awareness about the importance of improving child and youth sleep. Visit to access free healthy sleep resources and fun activities for children of all ages.

Halloween Health

Don’t let your health get tricked this Halloween! Here are a few ways to stay safe and healthy.

1. Get Moving

Carve out time to be active this Halloween – between get-togethers and trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. Take a walk and do some weight training to help you feel good!

Regular physical activity can help control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers, improve mental health and mood, and increase your chance of living longer.

2. Eat Well

Don’t spend this Halloween filling up on junk food and sweets. Give yourself and your guests healthier choices and nutritious treats.

Fruits and vegetables are part of a well-balanced and healthy eating plan. Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health.

3. Keep Your Bite Healthy

Keep Halloween candy at bay. Care for teeth the right way – brush with a fluoride toothpaste each and every day.

Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

4. Play it Safe

Take precautions to stay safe while trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Watch out for cars, use reflective gear, walk with a group, and carry a flash light.

Check out CDC’s Injury Center for tips to stay safe at home, on the road, and at play.

5. Scare Away the Flu and Colds

Don’t get spooked by the flu. Wash your hands frequently and get a flu vaccine, too!

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. Get vaccinated to protect yourself and your loved ones and learn about good health habitsthat can help stop germs.

6. Don’t Be a Zombie

Sleep is important– even on Halloween! Adults need 7-8 hours each night. It’s best for staying healthy and helping the disease fight!

Insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Help Teens Get the Sleep They Need

Starting around puberty, kids start getting tired later at night. While it might seem like they need less sleep, in fact, teens need about 9 hours of sleep at night. Unfortunately, most teens do not get the sleep they need.

What Makes it Hard for Teens to Sleep?

Several factors make it hard for teens to get the sleep they need:

  • Schedule. The average teen gets tired around 11 p.m. and has to get up between 6 and 7 a.m. to get to school on time. This makes it impossible to get 9 hours of sleep.
  • Homework. The push to succeed can backfire when kids sacrifice sleep to do homework. After a night of too little sleep, your teen may not be able to focus in class or absorb new material.
  • Texting. Even early evening texts can disrupt sleep. Hearing constant text alerts can make it impossible to wind down and relax into sleep.

What Parents can do

  • Make rules about bedtime. Set a bedtime for your teen, and yourself, and make sure you stick with it.
  • Limit nighttime activities.  Consider limiting the number of weeknights your child stays out past dinner.
  • Offer homework support.  If they have a heavy semester, help them schedule homework time and limit other activities.
  • Set technology boundaries.  You might make a rule that no devices are allowed in the bedroom after a certain hour.
  • Promote relaxing activities. In the hour or so before bedtime, encourage your child to do something relaxing. This might mean reading a book or taking a warm shower. Encourage your teen to explore ways to unwind so sleep can come.

Sleepy Teens Are Risk-Taking Teens

Sleep-deprived high school students are more likely to sustain injuries — often due to risky behaviors — than those who are well rested, U.S. health officials reported.

In a study of more than 50,000 students, researchers found that those teens who got seven hours of sleep or less on school nights were more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as not wearing a seat belt, riding with a drinking driver, and drinking and driving.

The study also found that teens who slept 10 or more hours a night were also prone to injuries and risky behaviors, compared with students who slept nine hours.

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Limit Child's Use of Smartphone at Bedtime

phone bedIf your child keeps a smartphone on their nightstand and takes a peek just before bed, they may be jeopardizing their sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation offers these suggestions:

  • Limit your child’s use of their smartphone at bedtime. It can lead to stress and getting too energized just before bed.
  • Keep the phone away from their bed while they sleep, either in another room or at least in a place where they can’t reach it from bed. The light, buzzing and beeping can distract them.
  • Set a “technology curfew” at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Get an actual alarm clock so they don’t have to use their phone.

Research Suggests Social Media is Messing Up Teens' Sleep

teen on phoneYoung adults who spend too much time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may pay the price in poor sleep, new research suggests.

Researchers tracked social media use and sleep troubles of nearly 1,800 Americans aged 19 to 32.

On average, participants said they spent 61 minutes a day on social media and visited social media sites 30 times a week. Nearly 30 percent of the participants also said they suffered sleep disturbances.

While the study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect, researchers found that people who spent the most time on social media each day were twice as likely to have sleep problems as those who spent less time on social media.

People who checked social media most often during the week were also three times more likely to have sleep problems than those who checked the least often, the study found.

The findings suggest that doctors may need to ask about social media when assessing sleep problems in young adults, the researchers said.

There are a number of ways that too much surfing on social media might get in the way of a good night’s sleep.

For example: it could replace sleep, such as when someone stays up late using social media; it could cause emotional, mental or physical arousal, such as when involved in contentious discussions; or the bright light emitted by devices might disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms.

Some young adults may also use social media to pass the time when they can’t fall asleep or get back to sleep.

Texting Source of Sleep Deprivation in Teens

Teen Texting NightThis video says it all. High school students weren’t even able to make it through a sleep study session without resisting the urge to respond to that late night text. The effect of smartphones on teenagers’ sleep is the focus of new research by JFK Medical Center.

“It comprised 3,000 students, it’s the largest in the U.S. of its type and it was very revealing,” Dr. Peter Polos said.

The one-year study in Edison school district showed that over 60 percent of students are not getting enough sleep because of late night texting or phone use, and 20 to 25 percent are awakened from their sleep responding to texts.

“We’re talking about a chronically sleep deprived adolescent and, in my opinion, adult population,” Polos said.

Polos is a sleep disorder specialist and lead the research. He says more than 70 percent of the participants reported getting less than the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, usually just five to six.

“Quality and quantity of sleep are important for brain development, for organizing thoughts of the day, helping with memory consolidation,” he said. “We know that normal sleep is critical for development, physiological development,”

“It’s just so tempting and it takes so much self control to know when to shut that off,” junior Kyle Gordy said.

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Help Kids Stick to Bedtime Routine Through Holiday Break

sleeping_girl1218Changes in routine can shortchange children’s sleep during the holidays, so a sleep medicine expert offers some advice for parents.

Keep your youngsters’ sleep times consistent, said Jodi Mindell, a clinical psychologist at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“As much as possible, be sure to stick to your child’s usual sleep schedule — both bedtime and nap times,” she said in a university news release.

“Of course, there will be exceptions, such as for family holiday gatherings, but try not to make the exception more than one or two nights in a row. If there are too many days of being off schedule, you can expect meltdowns,” Mindell added.

It’s also important to maintain normal bedtime routines.

“If every night is usually a bath and a story in bed, then do a bath and a story in bed, even on holiday nights,” Mindell said.



What’s Behind Bad Dreams?


(HealthDay News) — Nightmares may be more frightening if you’re a child and don’t understand what’s behind them.

The Mayo Clinic explains potential causes for bad dreams:

  • Daily events that cause stress, or major life changes (such as a move or loss in the family).
  • A traumatic accident or injury.
  • Insufficient sleep.
  • Some medications, such as antidepressants.
  • Certain health conditions, such as significant anxiety.
  • Watching a scary movie or reading a scary book.