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.

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.

A Healthy and Happy Transition Back to School

Going back to school means a transition from the generally laid back summer days to more structured school days.  It can also mean added stress for students and a need for increased awareness from parents.

Here a few tips we’ve gathered to help you and your kids experience a healthy and happy transition back to school:


Boy_with_headacheBack to school may mean an increase in headaches for your child.  This can be a result of a change in their bedtime routine, increased academic stress, too much screen time, not enough exercise and more.  To decrease the likelihood of your child having headaches, makes sure they do the following:

Get enough sleep (sleep guidelines by age group can be found here)

No more than two hours of daily screen time (screen time guidelines for children can be found here)

Stay hydrated (tips to prevent dehydration in children can be found here)

Move 60 minutes/day (tips for kids’ physical activity can be found here)

For additional information on back to school related headaches, click here.


Backpack Safety

Three kindergarten girls standing togetherBackpacks are a necessity for students to carry their books, papers, and other school essentials.  However, a heavy backpack can cause injury to students.  Most doctors and physical therapists recommend that kids carry no more than 10% to 15% of their body weight in their packs.

For additional information on backpack safety, click here



School Breakfast and Lunch

device-nuggets-htc-dnaWant to know what options are available to your student through their school’s breakfast and/or lunch program?  Check our Orange County Public Schools’ Food and Nutrition Department’s (OCPS FNS) interactive menus here.  The menus allow the user to look up nutritional makeup of the food item as well as view a picture of the actual food item from OCPS FNS.  This service is also available through the app store here.   Bonus, the app allows parents and students to provide direct feedback to OCPS FNS about the food served in their school.





Stopping for School Buss

Each year, Florida drivers illegally pass school buses nearly two million times. Each illegal pass-by could result in a tragic injury or fatality of a student. The inconvenience of an extra few seconds spent waiting for a stopped school bus is insignificant compared to the loss of a child’s life, which is why Florida’s departments of Education, Transportation, and Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, have teamed up to develop the Stop on Red, Kids Ahead campaign to remind drivers of the laws and safe practices to take when approaching a school bus.


For additional back to school health tips, visit our friends at KidsHealth.

Have a back to school health tip you would like to share with us?  Leave a comment or visit us on Facebook: HealthyKidsTodayMagazine or Twitter:  @HealthyKids2Day

Sleep Helps Kids Perform Better in School

teen-sleepWe all know that sleep is important, but many of us don’t get enough of it. Since our children model their behaviors off of ours, it is crucial to instill in them how important sleep really is. Because in children, a lack of sleep has been linked to behavior problems and the inability to concentrate and perform well in school. So sleep is not just important for your physical body, but also your mental well being. It is recommended that children 5 to 11 get between ten and eleven hours of sleep, and children 12 to 18 get at least eight and a half hours of sleep. There are many simple tricks you and your children can do to help ensure that they get the recommended amount of sleep. See below for our tips and tricks on how to get enough sleep. Do you have something else that works? Tell us in the comments below, on our Facebook or tweet us at @HealthyKids2Day.


Turn off the electronics

  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all electronics should be powered off at least an hour before bedtime. If your child has a TV in his/her room, make a serious consideration to remove it. There is a mountain of research that suggests kids with TV’s in their room get less sleep.

Set a bedtime

  • Children have a tendency to get into patterns. It will help to have a regular set bedtime that you abide by. This will help regulate their sleep. Don’t make exceptions for homework or the weekends. It is important to maintain their schedule.

Have a consistent bedtime routine

  • Whether it is reading your child a book, having them take a bath at night or letting them read on their own, it is important to stick to a bedtime routine. Knowing what comes next is comforting to children and their body will eventually adjust and might even automatically become sleepy during the routine.

Encourage physical activity throughout the day

  • Children who are active throughout the day, be it playing during recess, after school sports or riding their bike with friends after school, have an easier time falling asleep. But it is not just the quicker time it takes to fall asleep, being active throughout the day also allows for deeper and even longer sleep.