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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Sleep Awareness

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March 3-8 is National Sleep Awareness Week, and just FYI healthy adults are supposed to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, the CDC reports that from 1985 to 2006 the number of adults reporting fewer than six hours of sleep each night has increased in all age groups, particularly among people between the ages of 30 and 64.

Curious about whether this sleep loss in their parents transferred to preteens, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation asked preteens on We're Talking, Too: Preteen Health how much sleep they got a night (on average) and were surprised to learn that 52% of the first 317 youth who answered the survey reported they got less than eight hours of sleep a night. Another 38% reportedly got 8 to 9 hours sleep each night and only 10% reported that they got 10 or more hours of sleep each night, which by the way is the recommended amount.

Chronic loss of sleep has a cumulative effect on physical and mental health, can reduce the quality of life and productivity, increase the use of health-care services, and result in illnesses and injuries. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children aged 5 to 12 require 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night and adolescents require 8.5 - 9.5 hours each night.

If you are having trouble getting a good nights sleep, talk to your doctor and make sure you are:
  • keeping a regular sleep schedule;
  • sleep in a dark, quiet, well-ventilated room with a comfortable temperature;
  • avoiding stimulating activities within 2 hours of going to bed; and don't go to bed on an empty or full stomach.
Photo credit: husin.sani
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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