Are you or someone you know struggling with irritability or overwhelm? Having trouble managing your emotions and staying focused? Feeling sluggish and unmotivated? It might be a good time to check in on the amount and quality of sleep you’re getting.
Sleep is a time for the body to rest and repair and for the brain to integrate and process the day’s information and events. Lack of sleep can have negative impacts on mental and physical health for children, youth and adults.
Adequate and restful sleep helps children grow, pay attention, learn, and manage their behavior.
According to the Child Mind Institute, 60-70% of teens are borderline to severely in sleep deficit. Lack of sleep can lead to increased moodiness, difficulty regulating emotions, learning challenges, dangerous drowsy driving, and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Focusing on sleep awareness as our prevention topic during March, we would like to offer these sleep support reminders from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
- Go to bed early enough to get the amount of hours you need (general recommendations – children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps); children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours; teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours; adults should sleep 7 or more hours per night.)
- If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet device-free activity without a lot of light exposure.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Do not work, do homework, or online activities in bed.
- Try to make your bedroom a quiet and relaxing place keeping the temperature cool.
- Limit exposure to bright lights in the evening.
- Turn off devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime and charge them outside the bedroom.
- Eat a light, healthy snack instead of a heavy meal.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon or evening.
Some additional strategies:
- Complete chores and tasks including homework and email communications early in the evening. Limit distractions to make this time more efficient.
- Take a look at what you’re consuming in the evenings before bed (food, news, social media, entertainment) – is it relaxing or stimulating?
- Make a list of activities that help you wind down and check that they have that effect.
- Evaluate your time commitments – is there enough time in the day to do everything you’d like to do and get adequate sleep?
- Set out clothes and prepare lunches the night before.
- Make a to-do list for the next day so that you can set aside worries and planning.
- Try out an alarm that wakes you up with natural light.
- Take this sleep awareness survey to learn more about your sleep patterns and contributing factors.
- Keep a log for two weeks to better understand what might be affecting your sleep – here is one example. There are also sleep diaries designed for children and teens.
- Screen time affects sleep. Learn more about sleeping well in the digital age in this article from the Georgetown University School of Nursing.
- If you continue to struggle with sleep or are sleeping enough hours and are still feeling poorly, consult with a medical provider to screen for sleep disorders.
The Los Alamos Public Schools district coordinates a spectrum of prevention activities that are provided by school staff and community partners with funding support from Los Alamos County. The aim of the program is to build protective factors, life skills, and resilience as well as reduce risk behaviors and harm to children and youth.
For more information or to offer suggestions to the LAPS Prevention Program, Prevention Support Specialist Kristine Coblentz can be reached at email@example.com or 505-663-2575.