Many teens tend to stay up late. They’re on social media, watching television or YouTube, studying, or just tossing and turning for hours unable to fall asleep. Sleep can also be disrupted during stressful times during adolescence like exams or relationship problems.
More than two-thirds of high school students in the U.S. are failing to get sufficient sleep on school nights, according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends that teens should sleep eight to 10 hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health,” explains Virginia Skiba, M.D., a sleep specialist with the Henry Ford Health System. Insufficient sleep can have a negative impact on their grades, athletic performance and mental and physical well-being, including depression and anxiety issues and drug and alcohol use.
It’s a safety issue, as well. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of teen deaths in the U.S. In a recent survey, more than half of teens admitted to having driven when feeling too tired and nearly one in 10 teens reported having fallen asleep at the wheel.
A typical high school student is biologically wired to fall asleep around 11 p.m. Many high schools in Michigan start school as early as 7 a.m. – long before a teen’s natural wake time. The AASM advocates a later middle school and high school start time of 8:30 a.m. or later.
Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
Teenagers’ sleep-wake cycles are biologically determined – they are programmed to stay up late at night and sleep later in the morning. Most teens are instinctively night owls. Falling asleep is often a challenge, but there are things teens can do that may help them get a good night’s sleep.
Here are some tips from Dr. Skiba, which apply not only to teens but are great advice for anyone who is struggling with feeling sleep deprived:
► First and foremost, make sleep a priority. In our busy society, too often making time for sleep is last on the list.
► Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake time that allows at least eight hours of nightly sleep, including on weekends and vacation.
► Keep the bedroom quiet and dark. Keep the TV, computer, phone and video game system out of the bedroom.
► Set a technology curfew; turn off all devices one hour before bedtime.
► Engage in quiet activities before bed, like reading, journaling or yoga, and establish a relaxing bedtime ritual.
Dr. Virginia Skiba is a sleep medicine expert who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Centers in Grosse Pointe and Sterling Heights.
If your teen is struggling with sleep issues, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor to find out if he or she could benefit from a sleep evaluation. Call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936) or visit henryford.com to learn more.
Visit henryford.com/sports or call (313) 972-4216.
With communities across Michigan preparing for forecasts this week including temperatures in the 80s and in some places low 90s, this is an opportune time for the Michigan High School Athletic Association to provide its annual reminders on training in hot weather as fall sports teams are set to begin practices next week and competition later this month.
Each year, the MHSAA provides information to its member schools to help them prepare for hot weather practice and game conditions during the late summer and early fall. Practices for all Fall 2022 sports – cross country, football, Lower Peninsula girls golf, boys soccer, Lower Peninsula girls swimming & diving, Lower Peninsula boys and Upper Peninsula girls tennis, and volleyball – may begin Monday, Aug. 8.
The “Health & Safety” page of the MHSAA Website has links to several information sources, including the MHSAA preseason publication Heat Ways, which is available for download and includes valuable information on heat management in addition to requirements and resources regarding head injuries and sudden cardiac arrest.
The first days of formal practices in hot weather should be more for heat acclimatization than the conditioning of athletes, and practices in such conditions need planning to become longer and more strenuous over a gradual progression of time. Schools also must consider moving practices to different locations or different times of day, or change practice plans to include different activities depending on the conditions. Furthermore, football practice rules allow for only helmets to be worn during the first two days, only shoulder pads to be added on the third and fourth days, and full pads to not be worn until the fifth day of team practice.
The MHSAA advises student-athletes to make sure to hydrate all day long – beginning before practice, continuing during and also after practice is done. Water and properly-formulated sports drinks are the best choices for hydration.
A number of member schools follow the MHSAA’s Model Policy for Managing Heat & Humidity, which while not mandated for member schools was adopted as a rule for MHSAA postseason competition in 2013. The plan directs schools to begin monitoring the heat index at the activity site once the air temperature reaches 80 degrees, and provides recommendations when the heat index reaches certain points, including ceasing activities when it rises above 104 degrees. (When the temperature is below 80 degrees, there is no combination of heat and humidity that will result in a need to curtail activity.) The model heat & humidity policy is outlined in a number of places on the MHSAA Website, including as part of Heat Ways.