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Alaska Sleep Education Center

How Sleep Helps Teens Cope with Stress

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Aug 12, 2019 10:20:00 AM

With Alaska schools back in session in 9 days, the whirlwind of classes, clubs, athletics, jobs, friends and family can lead to a lot of sleepless nights and stressful days.  

Teenagers are living life at full speed — growing, learning, studying, exploding with hormones, learning to drive, gaining autonomy and coping with daily pressure and stress. It turns out that they need more sleep than adults to stay healthy and safe – and cope with stress.

To learn more about why sleep is so important for teens and how parents can help them get the rest they need, we reached out to Janet K. Kennedy, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, founder of NYC Sleep Doctor and author of The Good Sleeper: The Essential Guide to Sleep for Your Baby (and You).

Why is sleep so important for teens?
Sleep is an essential bodily function for everyone. But for teens especially, it’s the body’s time to repair the damage of the day, regulate hormones, consolidate memory, solidify learning, and restore energy so they can wake up and do it all over again the next day.

What the recommended amount of sleep for teenagers?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens get 8-10 hours of sleep nightly. Most teens do not get this much sleep.

Are there certain hours that are optimal for a teen’s bedtime and wake time?
Teenagers’ body clocks are skewed later than that of children and adults. Some teens have trouble falling asleep before 11 (or even later), which makes it hard to get enough sleep and get to school on time.

How does lack of sleep add to a teen’s stress level?
Lack of sleep increases levels of adrenaline and cortisol, making us feel wired, edgy and stressed. That physical stress combines with the psychological stress of homework, social stress, over-scheduled extracurricular activities, pressure to perform, and looming responsibilities of adulthood that can feel overwhelming. And stress hormones make it harder to fall asleep, creating a cycle of sleep debt that is hard to break out of.

Are there other consequences for teens for not getting enough sleep?

Not getting enough sleep affects every aspect of a teenager’s life:

Poor memory and concentration leads to poor retention and performance at school.

Response time is impaired and car accidents are more likely.

Hormones triggering poor food choices and metabolic changes cause weight gain.

Irritability contributes to family and/or social conflict and can lead to more serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Immune function is lowered and risk of colds or flu is increased.

Acne gets worse.

How can parents help set the stage for their teens to get a good night’s rest?

Parents can and should help teens develop good sleep habits:

Screens should be OFF and preferably out of the bedroom at least one hour before bed. This is important because screens keep kids (and us) plugged in to the day’s work and social activity. We have to train ourselves — and our kids — to unplug.

Phones, tablets and computers also emit blue light that suppresses the brain’s release of melatonin, delaying the body’s sleep signal. This is especially important for teenagers because their melatonin release is already on the late side. Delaying it further can cause insomnia and sleep deprivation.

Limit caffeine and eliminate super-caffeinated drinks designed to keep you awake. The body can take hours to metabolize caffeine. And even if someone is able to fall asleep after drinking caffeinated beverages, the stimulant effect interferes with deep sleep and makes sleep less restful.

No napping in the evening. Naps — and especially late naps — derail the body’s sleep clock, making it harder to get the consolidated nighttime sleep that is so important.

Don’t oversleep on weekends. Sleeping much later than normal and taking long naps on weekends makes it harder to get the sleep you need. The body works best when it has a consistent rhythm. A cycle of weekday sleep deprivation and weekend oversleeping keeps the body in a state of stress and fatigue.

As unpleasant as it sounds, it’s best to get up around the same time each day, even on weekends. It’s usually fine to sleep an hour later on weekends, but more than that can lead to Sunday night insomnia, setting up the cycle of sleep deprivation for another week.

 

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Topics: teens, stress

Family Sleeping: Surviving All the Individual Sleep Needs

Posted by Stefanie Leiter on Aug 9, 2019 8:43:37 AM

The hardest part about being a family is that everyone is their own unique person. It is exactly how we were designed, but it doesn’t mean it is easy when everyone's at different life stages affecting their sleep cycles.

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Topics: teens, Family, sleep habits, babies, toddlers

Back-to-School Sleep Tips for Parents, Children, and Teens

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Jul 31, 2019 11:50:00 AM

A new school year kicks off in 21 days!  Where did this hot Alaska summer go?  We all know what this means...our kids' lazy, relaxed days of summer are about to be replaced with packed schedules full of class time, homework, and after school activities. More than likely your children have been staying up late and sleeping in through much of their summer-break, and getting them back into a healthy sleep routine may be challenging to say the least.

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Topics: school, children, Sleep Tips, sleep and children, teens

Teen Angst and Anxiety: Not Just 4 John Hughes' Movies

Posted by Stefanie Leiter on Oct 26, 2018 6:28:00 PM

Teenagers bring a lot of their problems with them to the bedroom. A stressful school day, homework, activities, jobs, and social schedules cram a short 24 hours. Physiological and emotional reasons create these sleep-related difficulties.

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Topics: teens, anxiety

The Comprehensive Guide to Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment: Chapter 2

Posted by Guest blogger: Joe Smith, www.YooHealth.com on Oct 13, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Chapter 2

Sleep Deprivation in Teens and College Students

For many years, it has been argued that adolescents have different sleeping patterns from adults and children, but it has often been marked as laziness amongst teenagers by adults. However, numerous research has shown that teenagers do actually have a biological tendency to go to sleep as much as two hours later than adults, and that their sleep cycles differ as a result, and the push to fall asleep is a much slower one.

With things like evening activities and weekend events, the brain doesn’t think that it is nighttime until later, and so melatonin secretion is turned off later in the morning, making it harder for them to get up. Due to the way we want teenagers to function each day, their sleep cycle is disrupted, and they lose a lot of the deepest and most effective rest period.

It doesn’t help that teenagers and college students are expected to have so many commitments, which causes them a lot of pressure. Educational institutions are one of the biggest contributors to sleep deprivation because of the tight schedule they give their students. They are expected to complete assignments, get on with extra-curricular activities, and have to be accountable for all of this while also remaining competitive.

As a result, many students end up staying up too late completing assignments and don’t get the sleep required for proper function the next day. This leads to a vicious cycle, with increased deprivation that can lead to poor performance at school or college. As many as 50% of college students report daytime sleepiness, and 70% attain insufficient levels of sleep to function correctly.

If they do not get enough sleep, teenagers and college students are likely to find that their grades (and GPA) end up suffering, that their brains do not develop as well as they could, that their coordination is poor, and that they suffer from poor moods and even bouts of depression and rage. Getting enough sleep, on the other hand, can change all of this as well as boost memory, lower the risk of obesity, and even boost the immune system.

Teenagers should be getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep every night, but the preferred amount of time is ten. For college students, should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night in order to function as well as possible in class and when completing assignments. Ideally, schools should change the times that classes start in order to help teenagers and college students perform better in class, as waking up later means waking up prepared for the day ahead.

Of course, there is also the case of poor sleep hygiene that can result in teenagers having sleep deprivation. The concept of good sleep hygiene includes avoiding caffeine before sleep, a quiet environment, and sticking carefully to a specific sleep schedule. Poor sleep hygiene practices that many teenagers carry out are as follows:

  • Drinking alcohol before sleep. This is because while it can help you to sleep faster, it disrupts the REM stage of sleep, which can cause a restless night and poor sleep quality overall.
  • Using technology before bed. The blue screen actually stops the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep cycle and circadian rhythm. This can lead to weight gain as well as insomnia.
  • Having too much during the day, or some before bed, can actually impact your sleep. Even consuming it six hours before bedtime can significantly reduce sleep quality, causing more instances of waking up in the night as well as general restlessness.

If anything, these examples show why it is so important for adolescents to get good sleep, and why they need to get enough. Of course, naps are a great way to boost your energy and combat sleep deprivation (as long as you do not have too many), but cognitive behavioral therapy can also be a great way to combat the issue.

Tomorrow, come back here for Chapter 3: The Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation and sign up for Alaska Sleep Clinic's blog.

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Topics: sleep and children, teens

Sleep and Your Teen

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Apr 27, 2018 2:43:00 AM

It’s well known that some kind of switch seems to get thrown when our precious little ones become teens. Their sleeping patterns or lack there of become things of legend. The vampiric like late hours and the spaced out zombie behavior first thing in the morning is enough to drive any parent up the walls.

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Topics: school, sleep and children, teens, moms

Getting Your Kids Out of Bed

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Apr 25, 2018 1:41:00 AM

Let’s face it. Getting your kids out of bed in the morning can be difficult. While the sleep experts at the Alaska Sleep Clinic can’t come wake your kids up in the morning, we can give you a few tips that will help your kids sleep better and be well rested and happier in the morning.

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Topics: Sleep, teens, kids

Teens, sleep, and depression: The Link Parents Should Know

Posted by Julia Higginson on Apr 9, 2018 5:00:00 AM

Constant moodiness, sleeping in late, copping an attitude, and even being depressed are all seen as typical teenage behavior. But what if your teen just being a teen is really your teen reacting to the effects of sleep deprivation.

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Topics: Pediatrics, teens, behavioral psychology, depression, suicide, sleep habits, losing sleep

Are High School Start Times Bad for Your Teen's Sleep?

Posted by Kevin Phillips on Aug 18, 2014 11:38:00 AM

As a parent of a teenager, you've probably found yourself thinking "teenagers are just plain lazy!" They stay up much later that everyone in the household and are the hardest to wake in the morning. You may even have gotten a concerned phone call from one of their teachers saying they have trouble staying awake in their classes. And on weekends, if they don't have morning jobs or activities, they often sleep in until around 10 a.m. or later. So what is the deal with these teenagers? Are they really just lazy, or is there something more going on here? Alaska Sleep Clinic wants to address these questions and shed some light on whats really going on and what can/should be done for our teens.

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Topics: teens

What Is Considered Normal with Teens and Sleep

Posted by Jack Johnson on Nov 25, 2013 7:00:00 AM

Does your teenage son stay up late every night, night after night? Blame it on wild animals.

One theory on why teenagers are wired to stay awake later is that in another time, they were charged with protecting the village or camp at night from any dangerous creatures that might invade. A teen on guard might be more alert for that bear than his adult counterparts would be.

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Topics: teens

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