Catching some Zzzzs

16 Mar

It’s no surprise that teens don’t sleep enough.   What may be surprising is the effects that not getting enough sleep can have on teens.  We all know that teens are naturally moody and sometimes irrational, but how much of this is due to the fact that they don’t get enough sleep?  A lack of sleep can not only negatively alter the mood of teens, but it can reduce your productivity at school (also not very surprising), make them more likely to crave unhealthy foods, and even increase the occurrence of acne!

The National Sleep Foundation had a lot to say about teens and sleep.   Did you know that teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep a night?  That means for someone who had school at 8, in order for them to get the right amount of sleep they would need to go to sleep at about 9:30pm to give them at least 45 minutes to get ready and time to get to school.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of one time I went to bed that early in high school.  The article mentioned something that could explain that, and that is during adolescents the body’s biological clock is shifting and so it’s typical for teens to find it difficult to fall asleep before 11:00pm.  Makes sense, huh?!

Because of this, many teens often find themselves struggling with a form of insomnia.  A less severe form of anxiety is called transient insomnia and is usually caused by anxiety.  Teens can often times become anxious about stressful events in their lives, or they can simply become anxious over the fact that they cannot fall asleep, worsening the problem.

The National Sleep Foundation in their article gives a few great suggestions for teens to help them fall asleep earlier and easier.  Some of these are:

  • “Make sleep a priority!…
  • “Make your room a sleep haven.  Keep it cool, quiet and dark. If you need to, get eyeshades or blackout curtains. Let in bright light in the morning to signal your body to wake up.
  • “No pills, vitamins or drinks can replace good sleep. Consuming caffeine close to bedtime can hurt your sleep, so avoid coffee, tea, soda/pop and chocolate late in the day so you can get to sleep at night…
  • “Establish a bed and wake-time and stick to it, coming as close as you can on the weekends. A consistent sleep schedule will help you feel less tired since it allows your body to get in sync with its natural patterns. You will find that it’s easier to fall asleep at bedtime with this type of routine.
  • “Don’t eat, drink, or exercise within a few hours of your bedtime. Don’t leave your homework for the last minute. Try to avoid the TV, computer and telephone in the hour before you go to bed. Stick to quiet, calm activities, and you’ll fall asleep much more easily!
  • “If you do the same things every night before you go to sleep, you teach your body the signals that it’s time for bed. Try taking a bath or shower (this will leave you extra time in the morning), or reading a book.”

What suggestions do you have for getting more sleep?  Have you tried any of these suggestions?  Where they successful?  What other things have you tried in the past that have been successful?

Leave a comment and share your ideas!

The Sex Ed Debate

16 Mar

In a recent episode of Glee, they tackled the hot debate of sex education–abstinence only versus a more comprehensive educational approach.   You can read a summary of the episode and watch a clip  here.
I’ll admit, I’m not much of a Glee follower, but when I heard about this episode it got me thinking, what do parents/adolescents prefer?  Is abstinence-only still taught in school?  Is abstinence-only education even effective?  So I did some research about current sex education in US high schools and I was surprised at some of the things I found.

In one article I found some interesting information on some of the history on abstinence-only education.

“the 1998 Social Security Act… provided $50 million in annual grants for abstinence-only education… Language in the Act specifies that funds cannot be used to discuss contraceptives, except to describe and emphasize their failure rates.”

The article then goes on to demonstrate the impact that this Act had on sex education in high schools.  It explained that the CDC later did a study called the School health Policies and Programs study and found that 96% of high schools were in fact teaching abstinence only, but that nearly half of high schools were stopping there without providing any other preventative education.  Some of these education programs had been going on so long that 1/4 to 1/3 of the adolescents had failed to receive any formal education about other preventative measures besides abstinence.  The article highlighted this problem by informing that not only did abstinence-only programs fail to delay the onset of sexual activity and number of partners, but by graduation 63% of adolescents  had participated in some type of sex intercourse.

The alternative to abstinence-only sex education is comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) which includes education about abstinence as the best way to prevent pregnancy and STIs but it doesn’t stop there; it also includes “medically accurate” information about other preventative measures. The study performed by the CDC, found that close to 80% of students want an education program that includes both abstinence education and other prevention methods.

So with all that being said, I’m curious to know what your opinions are about the debate.  What method do you feel is more appropriate?  What was your experience with sex education in high school, and do you feel that it was affective among your peers?

Leave a comment and tell us what you think and why.

The Fast Food Frenzy

23 Feb

For many teens, fast food is an integral part of their life.  Whether it’s going across the street to Burger King during lunch release with some friends or stopping by McDonald’s on their way home from practice to grab a quick bite, fast food infiltrates all of our lives at one point or another.  This doesn’t change the fact that fast food is some of the most unhealthy, caloricaly compact, and nutritionally deficient food that we can possible consume.  Fast food industries purposefully target teens because of their busy lifestyles and desire for instant gratification making them a high-risk population for the negative effects of fast food.

One particular article I found talked about how fast food industries offer “values” which encourage consumers to buy more in order to get the most for their  money.  The danger of this nearly always overlooked even by the health conscious.  These “values” often contain the recommended amount of calories for an entire day, but contain hardly any nutrients and way too much sodium and fat.  Trying to get the best “value” for your money at a fast food restaurant is dangerous, but especially to young people who can create lasting habits and health problems.

The fact that fast food is unhealthy for us is not news.  This does not change the fact that for many, especially teens, fast food is unavoidably a part of their life.  For that reason I have included this article where you can learn about healthier, low calorie fast food options. Some other things that I recommend to help fight against the fast food frenzy include:

– Pack a snack for after school or practice so that you are not tempted to grab something on your way home

– Limit the number of times you frequent fast food (try cutting it in half or picking a set amount of visits per month)

– Use the nutrition facts posted online or at the restaurant to help you choose healthier options when you do get fast food

– Get a water to drink instead of a soda or other beverage

– Avoid “value” menus and choose items from the dollar menu when possible (they are usually smaller in size)

Introduction

23 Feb

Welcome to my blog, Teen Health Issues!  This blog is dedicated entirely to (you guessed it) the issues that face teens on a daily basis.  The purpose of this blog is to educate and provide resources for teens, parents, and any one else interested.  Stay tuned and let me know if there is anything specific that you are interested in learning more about!