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Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
As teenagers across the country head back to school, many are starting what will be yet another year of little sleep. But consider this: A consistent lack of shuteye can be much more serious than feeling fatigued in biology.
Studies show sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for things like car accidents and can lead to poor academic performance and ill health. Citing this topic as an “important public health issue,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a recommendation that middle schools and high schools start classes at or after 8:30 a.m. to allow students the chance to get more sleep regularly.
“Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today,” said pediatrician Judith Owens, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, in an AAP press release.
The AAP states that the optimal amount of sleep time for teens is between 8 1/2 and 9 1/2 hours per night. But as students get older and responsibilities pile up, a mix of homework, extracurricular activities, and after-school jobs leads to even later nights, which can make it very difficult to meet the sleep goal.
The possibility of making this policy change in schools across the nation is also tough. School districts struggle with financial and logistical challenges that include providing school busing services for elementary, middle, and high schools. It can be difficult for enough buses to shuttle kids to all of the schools in one time frame, which can also strain school district budgets. Ultimately, “the issue is really cost,” Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education, told the AP.
Does your child’s lack of sleep affect her performance at school? Take a look at these tips to boost her school success.
Photo of girl sleeping courtesy of Shutterstock.
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American Academy of Pediatrics, high school, homework, middle school, new research, research, school, sleep, teen drivers, teenagers, teens | Categories:
New Research, Parents News Now
Friday, June 13th, 2014
Fewer American teenagers are having sex or smoking cigarettes, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but public messaging efforts on the dangers of texting while driving and healthy eating remain largely ineffective in curbing dangerous behaviors. More from NBC News:
The latest federal look at teenage behavior is reassuring and suggests that some safety messages are getting through to American youth.
On the downside, kids are fatter than ever before and just a third are eating anywhere near as many fruits and vegetables as they need to stay healthy. And less than a third are getting enough sleep.
And a very troubling new statistic shows that more than 40 percent of teenagers who drive cars admit to having texted or emailed while driving recently.
But on the whole, it’s a snapshot of progress. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which organizes the every-other-year survey, was especially pleased about the drop in smoking.
“I think it’s really encouraging that we’re seeing the lowest cigarette smoking rate ever,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told NBC News.
“We’ve actually reached the goal that the nation set for ourselves for 2020 early. So that’s one of the most positive trends that we see here — down to 15.7 percent — less than one out of six kids in our high schools is smoking. That’s great news.”
Image: Texting while driving, via Shutterstock
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Child Health, New Research, Parenting News, Trends
Friday, June 13th, 2014
Parents of preschoolers who don’t get enough rest are more likely to have kids with sleep problems–and a higher likelihood of being overweight or obese. More from HealthDay News on a new study published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology:
“We viewed how long parents slept and how long children slept as part of a household routine and found that they really did go together,” study author Barbara Fiese, director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said in an university news release.
Researchers assessed the weight of 337 preschool children and their parents, as well as factors that could protect against overweight and obesity.
The protective factors assessed in parents included adequate sleep (more than seven hours a night) and family mealtime routine. The factors assessed in children included adequate sleep (10 or more hours a night), family mealtime routine, not having a television in the bedroom, and limiting screen time to less than two hours a day.
Getting adequate sleep was the only individual protective factor against overweight and obesity in children. Those who didn’t get enough sleep were more likely to be overweight/obese than those who followed at least three of the other protective routines on a regular basis.
The researchers also found that the number of hours a parent sleeps per night affects their children’s amount of sleep. This means that parents’ sleep habits could affect their children’s risk of being overweight/obese.
“Parents should make being well-rested a family value and a priority. Sleep routines in a family affect all the members of the household, not just children; we know that parents won’t get a good night’s sleep unless and until their preschool children are sleeping,” Fiese said.
Image: Couple sleeping, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Babies who don’t get enough sleep may end up weighing more later in childhood, according to a study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital. More from Time.com:
Plenty of studies connect poor sleep habits in adults to obesity, but few track the long term effect of infants’ sleep throughout childhood. That’s why Dr. Elsie Taveras, chief of general pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, and her colleagues followed babies every year from 6 months old until they were 7. At each visit, the team recorded height, weight, body fat, waist and hip circumference and sleep habit information to get the most complete picture yet of how sleep patterns are connected to childhood health.
Taveras rated the children’s sleep according to the recommended amounts for their age group set by the National Sleep Foundation and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute—for those under 2, that was more than 12 hours a day; for 3-4 year olds, that was more than 10 hours a day; and for kids 5 to 7, that was more than nine hours daily. At age 7, children with the lowest sleep scores throughout their young lives had the highest rates of obesity and body fat, specifically abdominal fat which other studies have linked to a higher risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
What sets Taveras’ work apart is that it shows how consistently disrupted sleep throughout childhood can have a cumulative effect on health. “This lends more evidence to the fact that insufficient sleep has significant health implications,” she says.
Consistently skimping on shut-eye, especially at an early age, may interfere with appetite hormones that control how hungry and full we feel. And because sleep is an important time for the body’s metabolism to reset itself, sleep deprivation can also skew the body’s circadian clock, changing the body’s ability to burn calories from the diet and leading to higher blood sugar levels.
The researchers recommend that parents maximize their kids’ sleep with healthy practices including consistent bedtime routines, limiting stimulating food and drink–especially caffeine-containing beverages–and eliminating electronic devices like televisions or mobile devices from kids’ bedrooms.
Need help getting Baby to sleep? Here’s what you need to know now!
Image: Sleeping toddler, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
Nearly three out of four American kids sleep with an electronic device like a smartphone, laptop computer, or video game in their room, a habit that is likely to impact the amount and quality of sleep they get, according to a new poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation. More from The Huffington Post:
The survey found that children in every age group were skimping on sleep. More than 1,100 parents of children between the ages of 6 and 17 were asked to estimate the time their kids spent sleeping on the average school night. Across the board, kids slept fewer hours than are recommended by the NSF.
Almost three quarters — 72 percent — of these children also sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedrooms. “To ensure a better night’s sleep for their children, parents may want to limit their children using technology in their bedroom near or during bedtime,” poll task force member Orfeu Buxton, Ph.D. said in a statement. Teens who slept with devices on averaged about half an hour less sleep on school nights compared to teens who slept without devices. Experts typically recommend powering down all electronic devices at least an hour before bed, since they both stimulate the brain and suppress the release of the sleep-promotion hormone melatonin.
The good news is that parents do value their children’s sleep, according to the survey. More than 90 percent said sleep is very or extremely important for their kids to perform their best at school, to be their healthiest and happiest. But they could do more to help their children catch those zzzs.
“A good first step in setting and enforcing sleep-related rules is to establish bedtimes,” poll task force member Jim Spilsbury, Ph.D., MPH, said in a statement. Beside limiting devices in the bedroom, parents can also enforce cut-off times for sleep-disrupting caffeinated drinks or TV shows, for example.
Use our helpful internet contract to set rules for kids using digital devices.
Image: Child in bed, via Shutterstock
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