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Encourage Sleep to Help Form More Healthy Habits in Teens

Is your teen getting enough sleep?

While The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least eight hours of sleep each night for teenager health, 18% of teens are sleeping less than seven hours a night, according to researchers at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine. Coincidentally, those teenagers sleeping the least also happen to be the group with the least healthy habits when it comes to diet.

Teenagers are more independent than younger children and are often in charge of their own diet choices. If they feel that they are low on time, they may be led to choose the fastest option for nutrition, leading to fast food drive-thrus rather than preparing a healthy salad. It is important for parents to help dissuade these habits, particularly now that it is back-to-school season. One way is by making sure that your teen is getting eight hours of sleep each night.

Here’s how:

  • Talk to your teens about their workload and lay out a plan for tackling homework and studying each day to avoid late night cram sessions
  • While teens tend to want to participate in everything, limit after-school activities to avoid over-extension and sleep deprivation
  • Have a “lights out” schedule - if you know your teen has a 6:30 a.m. wake-up time, check in with them at 10:30 p.m. the night before to make sure they are headed towards bed

And for those days when time is still tight, teach your teens simple healthy meals they can prepare in under 15 minutes to ensure they are getting needed nutrition without cutting into their shut-eye.

Habits formed during adolescent years are often maintained into adulthood. Therefore it is essential we do all we can to help our teenagers form good ones. How do you encourage healthy habits in your teens?


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