Saturday, January 02, 2010

Put Your Teen-Ager to Sleep

This makes perfect sense to us. A Columbia University Medical Center study of teen depression and suicides suggests lack of sleep may be to blame. What's more, it's up to parents to set earlier bedtimes:
On average the teenagers were having seven hours and 53 minutes sleep a night -- less than the nine hours recommended at that age.
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[A] lack of sleep could affect emotional brain responses and lead to moodiness that hindered the ability to cope with daily stresses. This moodiness could affect judgment, concentration and impulse control.

Sarah Brennan, chief executive at the mental health charity YoungMinds, said: "Enough sleep, good food and regular exercise and all essential to stay emotionally healthy.
It's hardly news that sleep-deprived teenagers might be moody, distracted, impulsive, and even suicidal. What is news -- shocking news, actually -- is that twenty-five percent of all 15,500 teenagers in this study over the 1990's had parents who allowed their children bedtimes of midnight or later.

To be sure, corporate America now offers teens a wide and ever-expanding array of distractions to keep them up late at night: the TV machine, 'puters, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, PDAs, and on and on and on. And, you know it's only going to get worse.

What's a parent to do to enforce an early bedtime? Corporate America has an answer for that, too: medicate them.

What rot. If the teens in your life won't go to bed early, turn everything off at home. Slow it down as bedtime approaches. Try talking to them. If you must, confiscate their Corporate America goodies and lock 'em in the trunk, or place them with a friend, or sell 'em -- or hammer them to pieces. It's cheaper than funeral expenses for your kid.

We heard an encouraging story the other day. Some local teens are coming to the realization that they need help dealing with all the electronic excitements and distractions Corporate America is schlepping their way. So, they're asking their parents to put in security codes on their 'puters and cell phones, and to keep the codes secret. When they want to go on-line, twitter someone, or update their FaceBook accounts, they have to ask a parent to start things up.

Sure, these are kids who recognize they have a problem and are asking for help. But it's a start. Maybe it'll catch on.

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