Back to school sleep schedules

August 25, 2009 3:26:04 PM PDT
With the new school year just days away, parents should now be adjusting kids' sleep times. That will help them to be more alert and ready to learn when classes start. But for teenagers, that can be a challenge.Sleep experts say about a third of teenagers suffer from insomnia at some point.

15-year-old Amber Witt says she often missed school because she couldn't sleep at night, and then couldn't get up in the morning.

Doctors say many teens have trouble sleeping because of hormone shifts. But for Amber, too much activity in the evening was also a factor.

"As soon as my homework was done, I was watching TV and watching, you know, my favorite shows before I'd go to bed, and playing on my computer and being in the internet and MySpace and Facebook."

Sleep expert Kyle Johnson of the Oregon Health and Science University says everyone needs to wind down before bedtime. Otherwise sleep deprivation can not only affect grades, it can also be dangerous.

"We do think teenagers are at a higher risk for motor vehicle accidents. We know they are a higher-risk age group, and this may play a part."

To promote healthier sleep, doctors recommend keeping a set sleep schedule, for school days and for weekends. Also limit soda, coffee, and energy drinks late in the day. And don't overload kids' schedules; allow time for them to unwind before bed.

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