Tips to keep your kids rested and ready for school
Tim Meulemans, Susan Kim
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
WEST BEND - Being a teenager is tough, but add to that the fact that 4 out of 5 don't get enough sleep and it gets even tougher. Take the Engstrom family. They are preparing for another year at West Bend West High School. Annika and her sister Kylie know that they will need enough supplies and snacks, but how about sleep?
"Then I can pay attention in school, and not fall asleep. That's a good thing, right?" Annika asks.
More than a good thing. It is one of the most important things for a teenager. Recent studies show that up to 80% of teens don't get enough of it.
Megan Grekowicz is a Nurse Practitioner at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, and a teen sleep expert. She explains, "Everyone's wave pattern is slightly different."
Grekowicz analyzes kids' sleep 30 seconds at a time. She knows that too little sleep at night can lead to trouble during the day. "We know that if they are sleep deprived, they don't do well in school. They get failing grades, they don't graduate, even those high achievers sometimes struggle to do well."
Kylie knows the feeling. She laments, "I feel like if I don't get enough sleep I'm going to be a zombie and not function well in school."
But just as important, lack of sleep can impair a teen's judgement, and make them more edgy and irritable. That's something you don't have to tell their dad Troy.
"It's important. You can just tell by their personalities and how they react to certain things," Troy explains.
A fixed routine is one of the best ways for a parent to help. The experts suggest having them unplug from technology, especially texting, 30 minutes before bed time. Also, wake them up at the same time each day - not just on school days.
"What happens is that on the weekends, if they sleep in it's almost like they get jet-lagged. They end up shifting their sleep patterns," Megan warns.
Thats not a problem for Annika and Kylie. As competetive swimmers they have been getting up early for practice all summer long, which makes the switch to school easier. However, keep in mind, knowing your bedtime doesn't always mean sleep.
"I guess that's incentive, but there is also other things that you have to do, like if you don't have stuff done for school the next day, you've got to stay up and do it," Annika says.
The experts say there is mounting evidence that lack of sleep can cause obesity. It just shows there are alot of good reasons other than 'Because I said so' for your teen to go to bed!