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Provider Focus

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Lack of Sleep in Teenagers

MHP warns Lack of Sleep in Teenagers can lead to serious health consequences

Mahaska Health Partnership’s Melissa Lamb, Advanced Registered Nurse Practioner (ARNP) at New Sharon Medical Center, warns that lack of sleep in adolescents can lead to unintentional injuries and death.  Other consequences include poor school in performance, negative moods and increased use of stimulants to combat drowsiness.

“In general, teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep per night,” Lamb explained. “During the adolescent years, a sleep phase shift begins to delay sleep onset and awakening time.”

A recent study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found that adolescents with earlier bedtimes were less likely to suffer from low mood. “Parents can have a positive influence on bedtimes,” Lamb stressed. “Having a nightly routine for the entire family can help create a regular schedule, making falling asleep easier.”

The NSF warns parents against the ‘technological playground’ many teenagers’ rooms provide. “Adolescents have a lot of stimulants available to them such as music players, the internet, television and cell phones,” Lamb said. “Limiting the availability of these items in the bedroom is conducive to better sleep.”

The NSF explained that teens who are sleep deprived may be drawn to activities that help them stay awake. Many consume large amounts of caffeine, surf the Internet or chat with friends and participate in one activity after another to ensure they will not fall asleep. “Being active through the daytime hours, completing homework early in the evening, and having time to unwind at the end of a day can help to achieve a good night’s sleep,” Lamb said.

Many dangers exist for teens who are sleep deprived stressed the NSF, including falling asleep while driving, struggling to wake up in the morning, feeling sad or moody, lacking initiative and declining grades. “Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle along with diet and exercise,” Lamb explained. “Everyone needs an opportunity to recharge at night, especially teens.”