KIDS AND SLEEP With school, social activities, and the other things that keep kids busy, sleep may be the last thing they worry about. Sleep deprivation (lack of adequate sleep) often begins around age 12 or 13 and remains a problem during the teen years. Biological changes during puberty can cause sleep patterns to change. Teenagers tend to be more alert at night and to sleep later in the morning.
People between the ages of 9 and 14 usually need nine or 10 hours of sleep every night. Many get much less than that. Some teen-agers (and adults) are so used to being sleep-deprived that they don’t even know they have a problem.
If you’re used to getting by on a few hours’ sleep, you may think sleep deprivation is no big deal. But doing without sleep has consequences. Not only does a sleepy person feel irritable and tired, he or she also has trouble concentrating, completing tasks, and using good judgment. In lab studies, severe sleep deprivation has led to hallucinations (“seeing” or “hearing” imaginary things or people) and delusions (mistaken ideas about what’s real).
Sleep deprivation can affect your relationships with friends and family, your grades, and your overall health. Getting enough sleep is just as important as good nutrition and exercise in helping you look and feel your best.
Here are some tips to help you get a good night’s sleep every night.
• Get enough exercise. If you get 20 to 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week, you’ll sleep better. (But don’t exercise right before going to bed.)
• Don’t drink too many sodas or eat too much chocolate, especially before going to bed. Caffeine can keep you awake.
• Eat a filling, nutritious meal early in the evening.
• Try to unwind before going to bed by reading, taking a bath, or doing some other quiet activity.
• If you’re upset or worried about something, try talking it over with someone well before bedtime. Stress can prevent you from sleeping well.
• Try to go to bed at the same time every night.
ACTIVITY: Keep a sleep chart for two weeks. Keep track of the time you went to bed every night and the time you got up the next morning. How many hours of sleep did you
average for the entire two week period? Do you think you’re getting enough sleep? How can you tell?
ACTIVITY: Watch for advertisements for sleep-related products. What techniques do the advertisers use to sell their products? Do they present facts, appeal to your emotions, or
use some other method? How effective do you think their advertising is? Discuss.
ACTIVITY: Look for pictures in your newspaper of people who work at night (examples:police officers, nurses). See who can find the most examples of these “night owls.”
This information is from the NIE tab, “Staying Healthy” produced by KRP, Inc.