Taking Action for Your Health: Is your teen getting enough sleep?

Posted at 11:09 PM, Oct 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-08 23:09:35-04

Fourteen-year-old Bryon Toner stays busy. The Cox High freshman takes advanced classes and plays tennis competitively for an hour and a half a day,  so his mom Tara sets the stage for a 9 p.m. bedtime routine so he can get a full night`s sleep.

“We do limit screen time, caffeinated beverages during the week,” says Toner.  “Reading before they go to sleep at night, just kind of turn things down a little bit, lights turned low, that sort of thing.”

And on the nights he doesn`t get enough sleep, it’s obvious.

“I`m definitely crankier— I yell at my sister all the time, I’m less patient with my parents and I fall asleep doing my homework,” says Bryon.

And Bryon`s not alone according to a new article published last month in the Journal Learning Media and technology. The published report analyzed several studies concerning teenagers’ sleeping habits and the negative consequences of sleep deprivation. It found teens are in a better mood, get better grades and are in better health when they get 8-9 hours of sleep a night.

Director for pediatric sleep medicine at Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters Michael Strunc sees firsthand how lack of sleep affects teenagers.

He says a full 8 hours helps ensure deep sleep and dream sleep. Both needed to keep you running on a full tank when you`re awake.

“If you’re losing some of that restorative sleep that makes you feel rested in the morning or that active sleep that helps you filter, either or both will make you feel cranky. You won’t be able to pay attention, may not be able to remember something you had in class yesterday, but you should have remembered that,” says Strunc.

And teens are more challenged when it comes to getting enough sleep.

Dr. Strunc says it’s natural for teens to go to bed later.

“That clock in our brain that says go to bed, it shifts later, its normal not bad behavior. It’s normal for teenagers to want to go to bed later 10 or 11,” says Strunc.

So how do you help your teenager get enough sleep when you know the alarm will be early for most kids?

Dr. Strunc tells his patients to have a set wake and sleep time 7 days a week and vary it only by an hour or 2 on the weekends, turn off electronics half an hour before bedtime and…

'Have a dimly lit room that`s comfortable with some benign noise, a fish tank, a fan, something that`s making some noise that`s distracting that helps our brain relax,” says Strunc.