In a digital world that is increasingly “connected” in ways that many of us would never have dreamed of even a few years ago, at least one mental health expert has a seemingly non-intuitive piece of advice for parents getting ready to prepare their kids for another school year: ditch the phone (at least when it comes to bed time.)
Dr. Connie Schnoes, a psychologist at Boys Town, says one of the biggest disruptions to a good night’s sleep is electronic devices, mainly cell phones, which many teens use as an alarm clock.
“Electronics actually emit wavelengths of light that interfere with your brain’s ability to communicate to your body to make melatonin, and melatonin is our natural hormone that helps us sleep,” said Schnoes.
The take-away is to have parents put away the electronics, at least when it comes to getting ready for bed.
Research from the National Sleep Foundation suggests that teens need between 8-10 hours of sleep a night to function well in school, yet only 15 percent report sleeping 8.5 hours on school nights.
The impact on that “sleep deficit” includes, at least in some cases, behavior and academic problems.
Here are two tips for helping teens get a good night of sleep.
- All electronics, including those of mom and dad, must go on a charging station in a separate room at bedtime. Teens won’t be tempted to check their phones if they wake up or listen to it beep or vibrate with texts all night. They get the phone/tablet/game back in the morning.
- Purchase a digital alarm clock for them to use instead of the alarm clock feature on their phone.
It seems odd to take a step back in time away from the latest and greatest technology, but teens need a leg up to tackle the difficult testing and rigorous classwork that currently overwhelm classrooms around the United States.
For more information about helping teens get more sleep visit boystown.org.
Nationally, Boys Town has been a beacon of hope for America’s children and families through its life-changing youth care and health care programs for almost 100 years. In 2015, Boys Town’s Integrated Continuum of youth care and health care programs impacted more than 500,000 children and families across America. This includes those who received services from Boys Town’s residential programs as well as those served by the many varied programs that comprise the Boys Town Integrated Continuum of Child and Family Services, including In-Home Family Services, health care services provided by Boys Town National Research Hospital and the Boys Town National Hotline.