The alarming study highlights the fact that very few teens are leading optimal lifestyles. Researchers call the results a “wake-up” call for the future health of the nation’s teens. Past studies have shown that too little sleep or exercise, or too much screen time can increase the risk of chronic health problems such as obesity, anxiety and depression, poor academic achievement and risky behaviors like smoking and drinking.
Parents play an important role in setting appropriate boundaries as well as encouraging healthy activities such as sports and exercise. Encouraging a regular sleep schedule and routine, even for older teens, is critical to growth and development.
Some suggestions to improve shut-eye:
1. Complete computer-based homework earlier in the afternoon/evening. Save reading and other non-digital assignments for last, giving your child’s brain a chance to unplug and unwind.
2. Turn off TVs, tablets, games and other devices at least one hour before bedtime. Blue light emitted from these devices signals the brain to suppress melatonin production, preventing your teen from feeling sleepy.
3. Make sure text notification alerts are silenced if the phone is used as an alarm clock, and cannot be shut off. FOMO – fear of missing out – is a chief contributor to fragmented sleep. There are a number of apps available to block distracting websites and apps and to deter internet surfing at inappropriate times.
4. Taking a warm shower or bath can help soothe muscles and melt away the stress of the day.
5. Diffuse essential oils in your teen’s room, such as lavender or oil blends like Young Living’s Peace and Calming to help enhance relaxation and restful sleep.