A few years ago I participated in a webinar on Risk & Resiliency to Mood Disorders in Teens that focused on the importance of sleep and, coincidentally, My Fitness Pal also released an article on the effects of sleep deprivation. Adequate and quality sleep is important for every one at any age, but especially for adolescents. Sleep, however, is a bio-marker of good overall health. The brain plasticity and structural reorganizations (big words for ‘brain changes’) during the teenage years can explain the onset of mental illness in young adults, which can be further influenced by sleep deprivation. Okay, now that all of that confusing information is over, here’s what you need to know:
-Increased sleep debt (sleeping less than 8 hrs/night over an extended period of time) caused a ‘inadequate sleep epidemic’
–70% teenagers experience an insufficient amount of sleep on an average school night
-Poor sleep leads to poor school & work performance, substance use disorders, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and suicidal ideation
-Individuals with a greater stability of daily rhythms (aka regular sleep patterns) have lower self-reported stress-The University of Chicago found that men who slept only 4 hours/night for 2 nights increased their caloric intake (appetite) by 24%
-The number of car accidents involving teens in the morning increases the earlier school starts in the morning
-According to the CDC, more than 1/3 of Americans aren’t regularly getting enough sleep
-Check out this infographic!
As you can see, sleep deprivation is a HUGE problem for everyone, especially teenagers, whose biological clocks, hormones, and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) are already all over the place! So what can YOU do to avoid this?
-Keep regular daily routines
-Decrease interpersonal problems aka drama, if possible
-Practice mindfulness (being in the moment)
-Consider exploring yoga, tai chi or other relaxation techniques
-Exercise regularly, even if it’s just a brisk walk
-Keep a regular sleep schedule and avoid variability (changes) and over-scheduling (being too busy)
-Limit caffeine intake and ‘screen time,’ especially at night
-Go outside! Your body needs sunlight to function well (yes, even in winter!)
Sleep is an important part of self-care and wellness. Get your sleep on!
(Special thank to Under Armour/My Fitness Pal and the International Bipolar Foundation for ideas and info!)
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