Sleeping teen girl.

What Can Be Done About Kids’ Lack of Sleep?

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Several recent posts have discussed the need for sleep and rest among kids.

Dr. Mary Carskadon is one of the foremost scholars and researchers specializing in sleep research, and is a Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.Sleeping teen girl.

In an interview aired on the Public Broadcasting Network, Dr. Carskadon was asked to discuss a variety of sleep aspects. One question was “What can be done about teens not getting enough sleep?”

Here is her response:

This is a bigger problem than just adolescence. Our society in general has sort of put sleep in the back seat, doesn’t think about sleep anymore, and doesn’t really understand or acknowledge the importance of sleep. So for me, sort of the battle is to have a more generally acknowledged positive priority on sleep. I think we need to be teaching about sleep.

It’s so interesting to me that you can go into classrooms with tiny little kids and you can learn the food pyramid and you can learn the importance of not smoking and of wearing helmets and so forth, and not ever hear word one about sleep. Furthermore, you can see that all the way through school, into college, into medical school… The amount of information that’s being taught in formal curricula about sleep is virtually nil. So I think that’s going to have a big impact.

I think that adolescents in particular need to know about sleep. Their parents, teachers, school administrators, the school nurses need to know. And maybe we need to start reexamining the issue of the school starting time, and really turn back the clock a little bit to give these kids a break.

The message is clear, rest and sleep need to be an intentional part of our personal and family health discussions and strategies.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.