Catching Adequate Z’s

The brain needs sleep in order to recharge and get ready for a new day. So, if teens aren’t getting enough hours during the night, their brains won’t work properly when it comes to hit the books. Medical Reporter Mark Charter reports.

(Mark Charter, Reporting):  The average kid has a pretty busy schedule – that’s no secret. There’s homework, sports, and for some, a job.  And that doesn’t always leave time for a good night’s rest. Across the country, morning alarms are going off. But for many, the need for sleep is cut short … by an early school bell.

(Karla Smith, Director, St. Alexius’ Sleep Center):  “Kids are in a constant state of jet lag.” When kids hit puberty, their body’s internal clock naturally shifts; basically that means that they’re more likely to stay up late, and then they end up wanting to sleep in.

(Karla):  “They should get about 9.5 hours.” But if you’re a parent, you know nine plus hours isn’t always a possibility.

(Karla):  “My kids go to Bismarck High, have to find a place to park. So, they leave the house at 7:20 a.m., which means they have to get up at six, so they’ve only gotten five hours of sleep.” The question about how to solve the sleep problem is still unanswered, but sleep experts have an idea on what can help. 

(Karla):  “One hour before bed, be done with any electronics, including TV. Turn the TV off, put the phone away. If it has to be, take the phone away before they go to bed so they’re not up texting all night long.”

Melatonin is a chemical that’s naturally found in the body, and that makes us tired. It’s release when the sun starts to set. But experts say, when we’re up late staring at bright screens, our bodies get confused. 

(Karla):  “That light that is shining on us is actually decreasing the amount of Melatonin that we’re releasing. “

So tonight, shut off the screens, make your room a comfy temp and start counting those sheep. Your body will thank you tomorrow. Sleep experts also say getting some exercise during the day can help the body sleep a little bit better.

Mark Charter, Reporting