Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sleep Patterns in Teens

My teenage son recently turned me onto a new App called "Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock." I noticed he was going to bed with his smart phone tucked near his pillow. He showed me the App he is using to calculate the number of hours he sleeps each night. The App also has an alarm clock that wakes you up when you are in your lightest sleep phase.

I have always been very strict about making my children go to bed at a decent hour, and they still give me trouble about my non-wavering bedtime rules (they are almost 16- and 18-years-old and the current rule is bed by 10pm on weeknights and 12am at the latest on non-school nights). I do believe all the research that suggests how vital sleep is, to everyone, especially to growing bodies and I allow my boys to sleep in as much as possible. I've never been an advocate of the extra early period their high school offers, choosing sleep over more credits.

I like this Sleep Cycle App because it shows us exactly how many hours we sleep each night and I like how it is supposed to wake you up feeling refreshed instead of feeling beat. But it does require that you go to bed at a decent hour, in order to feel refreshed.

This was from the App's information:

"The typical adult will re-enter REM roughly every 90 minutes. Each time REM lasts a little longer. Upon completion of REM, the body re-enters the sleep cycle again and will typically do so 4-5 times per night.

Non-REM is thought to help physiological processes "reboot", while REM is thought to work through psychological needs.

Recent research is showing that REM sleep is necessary for processing new information, in other words learning. We start out in life spending about 50% of our time in REM sleep, but after about the age of 10 we stabilize to about 25% in REM.

When we are deprived of sleep we spend a longer amount of time in stages 3 and 4 of non-REM during the next sleep period, verifying our body's need to "reboot". That also means we'll spend less time in REM sleep, leading to irritability and emotional problems."

And this recent article from The Washington Post confirms how important sleep is for teens: "Sleep Deprivation and Teens: Walking Zombies."

From the article, co-written by Vicki Abeles, Director of Race to Nowhere:

"A 2010 study in the journal Sleep found that teenagers who go to bed after midnight are 24 percent more likely to suffer from depression and 20 percent more likely to consider harming themselves than those who go to bed before 10:00 p.m...

Not only is too little sleep affecting teens, but so is their means of staying awake. Many rely on coffee, caffeinated soda, and energy drinks. Some take Adderall or amphetamines. In Massachusetts and New York they can now stay up with the help of a lipstick-sized canister of inhalable caffeine. The Journal of Pediatrics recently concluded that energy drinks are “never appropriate for children or adolescents,” citing the harmful “neurologic and cardiovascular” impact of caffeine on teenagers.
So how can we help stop our kids from racing on empty and losing years of essential sleep? The first step is to realize how much we contribute to perpetuating a work ethic that celebrates pushing ourselves and our children to the limits. We need to treat sleep as essential to our teenagers’ well-being and success by teaching them that sleep is as important as nutrition, exercise, studying, and free time. Over the past several years we’ve created national guidelines for eating and exercise, shouldn’t we do the same for sleep?"

Well, if national guidelines don't work, individual guidelines may.  So I suggest you be as strict as necessary with your children of all ages regarding sleep! You and they won't regret it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks,Kerry! Now I have something new for my son's iPod addiction. Our 13-year old is really starting to challenge the early bedtime (currently 10:15 on weekdays) though he is often so beat from getting out and playing after school that he nods off as he argues with us.
    The truth is, now when he misses sleep, he really feels it so deep down he knows how important it is.