Recently, NPR published an article reporting the effect of screen exposure on sleep quality and duration in teenagers. According to a study by sleep researchers from the University of Michigan, one in six parents surveyed said that their teenage child had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep for three nights or more during a week. Of these parents, more than half say that electronics are to blame for their teens’ sleep troubles, while 43% pointed to long and irregular school and activity schedules.
While the busy nature of high school and the restlessness of teens might seem normal, another recent report from MinnPost shows why lack of sleep, even amongst the young, should be cause for concern. MinnPost writes that according to a new study published by Scientific Reports, sleeplessness and sleep irregularity raise risks of developing serious chronic illnesses, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression.
While the recent study focused on older Americans, sleeplessness and irregular sleep is clearly bad for a person’s health at any age.
Eighty-two percent of Americans find that getting one extra hour of sleep per night is somewhat or extremely valuable. However, as screen technology increasingly becomes significant in our work and home lives, getting a good night’s rest could become even more difficult.
By following these tips from NPR and SleepDr.com, both adults and teens can care for their short-term rest to promote long-term health:
- Establish a Routine
Sleep researchers recommend turning off the lights at the same time every night, and waking up at the same time every morning, even on weekends. Prepping for bed by brushing teeth, reading, and changing in the same order and at the same time each day can also mentally and physically help the body settle for the night.
- Limit Caffeine
For teens especially, caffeine can wreak havoc on a sleep schedule. Avoid caffeine before the afternoon, and consider cutting it completely.
- Get Tech Out of the Bedroom
Avoiding televisions, phones, and laptops in the bedroom reduces the amount of light the eyes and brain process before bed, signaling sleep hormones. Getting rid of tech can also help a person avoid distractions and worries about the next day. Thinking about emails, bank accounts, and the news before sleep is not a good way to improve rest. If you absolutely must have phones or computers where you sleep, look into blue-light blocking filters, which warm the color of the light from your screen to help reduce headaches and promote sleep.
Getting enough sleep is essential for parents, teens, and everyone in between. By practicing good sleep habits, you can get the rest you need to succeed each day and to ward off long-term illness.