Go to Sleep!

sleepMany teens don’t get a sufficient amount of sleep due to busy schedules, but scientists are now looking at the role that technology plays with sleep. Sleep plays an extremely important role in overall health and well–being, and the way you feel throughout the day is a often a reflection on how much sleep you got the night before.

Intrigued with understanding the meaning of “sleep hygiene”, I contacted Dr. Susan Gray (an adolescent and young adult medicine provider at Boston Children’s Hospital) and asked her the following questions:

What are some of the most important things teens should know about sleep?

“The most important thing to know about sleep is that it’s absolutely necessary for physical and mental health.”

“The second most important thing to know is that to get the best sleep, you need your bedroom to be dark, quiet, cold, and technology–free. That means no TV, no radio, no phone, no computer. Many teens tell me that they can’t sleep without their smartphone or other hand held device by their side. I challenge them to try the dark, quiet, cold, and tech–free bedroom for a month. I have yet to have a patient tell me they don’t sleep better. It’s because even when we’re asleep, our brains pay attention to noise and light. You have to get rid of noise and light to sleep well. Whatever your friends are texting you in the middle of the night can wait until the morning!”

Does sleep deprivation have long term effects?

“Yes, sleep deprivation or lack of sleep has long term effects. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health (Feb. 2014) suggests that even several years later, teens with poor sleep habits had lower grades and were more likely to be depressed.”

Can naps throughout the day make up for lost sleep at night?

“Naps are not good substitutes for missed sleep at night because they alter your body’s internal clock—the one that dictates when you should be awake or asleep. The best recipe for good sleep is to try to wake up at the same time every day—EVEN ON WEEKENDS—and avoid naps. If you follow this rule, you will not have a hard time falling asleep and sleeping through the night.”