Are teens getting enough sleep?

Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

How many parents have had to drag their teen out of bed in the mornings or even up for lunch on the weekends? Parents plead, they bribe and they threaten to ground them, but with little or no response.

The Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition, RAYSAC, works diligently in helping families bring knowledge to their doorstep.

“Any time is a great time to help your teen change their sleeping habits so they can be healthy, successful and ready to learn,” their team agrees. ”Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep each night to stay healthy.”

However, according to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Study, only 35 percent of Craig County High School aged youth report getting more than eight hours of sleep nightly. Over 40 percent report getting six hours or less.

The team reports that natural changes are part of the reason but schoolwork, after-school activities, jobs and use of technology add to the issue. “72 percent of all children and 89 percent of teens have at least one electronic device, such as a cell phone, tablet or laptop, in their sleep environment,” RAYSAC shared. It is proven that light given off by these devices disrupts the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which makes it harder to fall asleep at appropriate times.

During the school week, teens stay up late and wake up early. Over time, nights of missed sleep can make their sleep cycles even more unbalanced. Without enough sleep on a regular basis, teens have a higher risk for: obesity, sexual activity, behavior problems, feeling sad or hopeless, difficulty learning, poor school performance, seriously considering suicide and experimenting with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs.

J. D. Carlin, the Prevention Specialist of Prevention Services with Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare believes that the research is clear about the importance of proper rest, especially for youth, and that teens in Craig County are no exception.

“If we want our youth to reach their full potential, get the most out of their schooling and their extra-curricular activities, and be at their best in general, we have to do what we can to get this message out to the adults in youths lives that set these standards,” he said. “This is a perfect example of small changes creating big positive results.”

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