Helping teens get healthy sleep: Five tips for parents
Less than one-third of teens get sufficient sleep on school nights
DARIEN, IL – Aug. 25, 2014 – Data recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than two-thirds of teens fail to get sufficient sleep on school nights. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine offers five tips to help parents promote healthy sleep in teens so that they can meet their full potential.
The AASM recommends that teens get a little more than nine hours of nightly sleep for optimal health and daytime alertness during the critical transition from childhood to adulthood. However, CDC data from the ongoing Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System indicate that in 2013 only 31.7 percent of students in grades nine through 12 reported getting eight or more hours of sleep on an average school night. The prevalence of getting eight or more hours of sleep was higher among male (34.5%) than female (28.9%) students.
Insufficient sleep can produce deficits in concentration and memory, impairing teens’ academic performance. Research also shows that chronic sleep loss is a threat to the physical and mental health of teens, increasing their risk of problems such as depression, suicidal thoughts and drowsy driving.
The AASM encourages parents to help teens get healthy sleep by following these five tips:
Discuss school start times. It is important that parents and local school boards work together to implement high school start times that allow teens to get the healthy sleep they need. In puberty a natural shift occurs in the timing of the body’s internal “circadian” clock. As a result, most teens have a biological preference for a late-night bedtime.
“When high school classes begin early in the morning, we ask teens to shine when their biological clock tells them to sleep,” said AASM President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler. “Many do not get adequate sleep as a result. Smarter school start times, that are more consistent with sleep needs, will improve students’ safety, overall health, mood and academic performance.”
Promote a consistent sleep-wake schedule. Your body functions best when you keep a regular routine. Encourage your teen to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning.
Let in morning light. Open the blinds or curtains in the morning to expose your teen to bright sunlight. This light is a timing cue for the body that helps promote alertness.
Ban devices from the bedroom. Ensure that your teen’s bedroom is a quiet, relaxing sleep environment. Keep electronic devices such as the TV, video game system, computer and tablet out of your teen’s bedroom.
Set a communication curfew. Set a reasonable time after which your teen can no longer send text messages, check e-mail and social media, or talk on the phone. Ensure that your teen silences all communication notifications during sleep.
Teens who regularly struggle to fall asleep at night or stay awake during the day may have a sleep illness. Parents can get help for a teen’s sleep problems from a board certified sleep medicine physician at an AASM accredited sleep center. Visit www.sleepeducation.org for a directory of sleep centers.
Kann L, Kinchen S, Shanklin SL, et al; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Youth risk behavior surveillance--United States, 2013. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2014 Jun 13;63 Suppl 4:1-168.
About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is the leader in setting standards and promoting excellence in sleep medicine. With nearly 9,000 members, the AASM improves sleep health and promotes high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. For more information, visit www.aasmnet.org.