Parents of teenagers are likely familiar with the array of
media outlets -- iPods, TV, cell phones, stereos, video games
and computers -- that many teens are glued to at all hours
of the day.
When's the last time YOU slept this peacefully? Check
out the tips below to turn junk sleep into good sleep.
The lure of these electronics may be damaging kids' health,
causing them to not get enough sleep, nor enough quality sleep,
according to a poll of 1,000 teens conducted by the Sleep
The survey of 12- to 16-year-olds found that:
30 percent of teens sleep just four to seven hours a
night on school nights, instead of the recommended eight
to nine hours.
23 percent say they fall asleep watching TV, listening
to music or while using other electronics more than once
19 percent admitted that leaving on the TV or computer
impacted the quality of their sleep.
98.5 percent have a phone, music system or TV in their
bedroom, and over 65 percent have all three.
40 percent say they generally feel tired.
The result, researchers say, is that teens are getting "junk
sleep" -- and it has just as much potential to impact
their health as does eating junk food.
"This is an incredibly worrying trend," says UK
sleep expert Dr. Chris Idzikowski of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre.
"What we are seeing is the emergence of Junk Sleep --
that is sleep that is of neither the length nor quality that
it should be in order to feed the brain with the rest it needs
to perform properly at school."
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"I'm staggered that so few teenagers make the link between
getting enough good quality sleep and how they feel during
the day. Teenagers need to wake up to the fact that to feel
well, perform well and look well, they need to do something
about their sleep," Dr. Idzikowski says.
Are YOU Getting Junk Sleep?
Let's be honest. Teens are not the only ones guilty of falling
asleep with the TV on, or staying up surfing the Web when
they should be getting some Z's.
Adults, too, are skimping on their much-needed
In fact, according to the 2002 Sleep America poll conducted
by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), Americans sleep just
6.9 hours per night on average during the week and just 7.5
hours per night on weekends. In contrast, before the invention
of the light bulb, people slept about 10 hours each night.
Meanwhile, an estimated 70 million Americans are impacted
by a sleep problem, according to NSF.
What is this lack of sleep doing to all of us? Plenty.
Consider the findings of this National Institutes of Health
(NIH) sleep study conducted on rats. While rats normally live
for two to three years, those deprived of all sleep only live
about three weeks, and those deprived of REM sleep (the stage
of sleep when we dream and during which it's thought brain
regions used in learning are stimulated) survive only about
five weeks on average.
At the same time, the rats developed abnormally low body
temperatures and sores on their tails and paws. Researchers
believe the sores indicate a sluggish immune system and suggest
just how detrimental sleep deprivation can be to the immune
system of humans.
Further, according to the Sleep Council, not sleeping enough
you fat. People who sleep four hours a night or
less are 73 percent more likely to be overweight than
those who sleep enough. Even if you sleep less than six
hours a night, you're 25 percent more likely to be overweight
than those who sleep longer.
Increase your appetite (also causing you to gain weight).
Research by University of Bristol researchers found that
people who slept for five hours had 15 percent more of
a hormone called ghrelin, which increases your appetite,
than those who slept for eight hours. Meanwhile, the short
sleepers also had 15 percent less leptin, which is a hormone
that suppresses appetite.
Mimic the aging process. In fact, University of
Chicago researchers found that sleeping for four hours
a night for less than seven nights interferes with your
ability to process and store carbs, and regulate hormone
levels -- all of which may lead to aging.
Impact your brain. According to Canadian sleep
expert Stanley Coren, you lose one IQ point for every
hour of lost sleep you didn't get the night before.
How to Get Enough Quality Sleep (for Your Teen AND Yourself)
If you find that you have a tough time settling down for
sleep each night, try these tips for a night of pure, uninterrupted
slumber (they're quick and easy, and will fit into even your
teen's busy schedule):
Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at
the same time each morning.
Exercise (but not too close to bedtime, as it could
keep you up).
Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark--and use it
only for sleep (not watching TV, surfing the Web, chatting
on the phone or playing video games).
Drink a cup of relaxing tea, like chamomile.
Massage your feet.
Stretch a bit before you lie down.
Once you are in bed, listen to a relaxation CD like
Easy CD to help you "shift gears" and relax
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