.....an elevated risk of insomnia AND the risk of using hypnotic drugs, and contemplating suicide. A study out of the University of Pittsburgh focused on 798 adolescents - boys and girls - with an average age of 14.4 years. The young teens answered a detailed questionnaire that covered sleep and health issues.
The results seemed to indicate that kids who were being parented by Moms and Dads who had chronic ongoing insomnia were also suffering from insomnia too. These teens also showed an elevated risk of a variety of mental health issues, substance abuse and suicidal behavior. These kids were twice as likely to report insomnia, daytime fatigue, and use of hypnotics. What the study was not able to ascertain was how much of the heightened risks were due to genetic, environmental or a combination of both factors.
Typically, health experts recommend that teens get 9 hours of sleep a night. I know, I know - we're supposed to convince them how exactly?? Well, you can appeal to their intellect, bribe them (OK maybe not) but maybe you can model the behaviors and habits needed for you to get a better night's sleep. And then maybe, just maybe they'll follow along.
For better sleep hygiene:
- Try to go to sleep at the same time every night (including weekends)
- Create a relaxing environment in your bedroom
- Keep your bed for sleep only
- Avoid caffeine rich foods, stimulants for at least 4 hours before bedtime
- Don't exercise too close to bedtime
- Don't go to bed hungry - but don't eat within 3 hours of bedtime
- Keep your bedroom quiet and dark
- Try to get up at the same time every am and let the natural sunlight filter in
I lucked out with my second child who has always liked to sleep - not more than normal - but definitely enough to refresh him on a daily basis. My first child phased out naps before I was ready for it qand alwyas pushed the limits of limited sleep in order to "not miss life." Today of course, as a young adult, she is still trying to re-capture those lost hours of sleep.
Now that this study confirms the profound impact that chronic sleep deficit can do to you and your teen - it's worth making it a discussion point and habit to embrace - at least some of the time!!
Published On: July 31, 2008