Stories about: irregular sleep

Could starting high school later be healthier for teens?

Lack of sleep can affect academic performance in teens.

According to experts, teenagers need a little more than eight hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, (surprise, surprise) most teens aren’t listening. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that only 31 percent of high school students get eight or more hours of sleep on an average school night.

This is upsetting news because poor sleep is tied to a lot more than a teenager having a bad attitude when she’s tired. Insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, depression and obesity. Sleepy drivers are more likely to get in an accident, and sleepy students tend to do worse on tests than their well-rested peers. Teens who average less than eight hours of sleep per night are also more likely to drink, do drugs and indulge in inappropriate sexual behavior.

Clearly our teens need more sleep. But as any parent will tell you, telling a teenager to go to bed earlier is one thing—getting her to actually do it is something else all together.

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Sweet dreams

“We couldn’t consider it from a more favorable perspective.”

That’s how Kathy and Michael Cunningham describe their feelings about polysomnography (sleep study), now that their 5-year-old son, Elijah, has recently undergone the procedure at the  Boston Children’s Hospital Sleep Laboratories. The praise is even more compelling when you consider the source: Elijah’s dad is Michael J. Cunningham, MD, FACS, Boston Children’s otolaryngologist-in-chief.

In addition to talking in his sleep, Elijah had been waking repeatedly throughout the night—a potential symptom of what is called a “non-REM parasomnia” (sleep disruption that occurs outside of the deep, rapid-eye-movement stage of sleep), possibly related to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). After an initial examination, Cunningham’s colleague in Otolaryngology, Mark S. Volk, MD, DMD, FACS, referred Elijah to see Sanjeev Kothare, MD, interim medical director of Children’s Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders. Kothare agreed that Elijah’s sleep pattern was unusual, and recommended a sleep study to determine whether there was any underlying OSAS that would make a tonsillectomy necessary.

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Health headlines: Deafness, IVF and the new flu vaccine

yawning boyOther stories we’ve been reading:

New York’s soda tax could bring in $222 million. [Read Children’s obesity expert’s take on artificially sweetened beverages.] Chronic health conditions are increasing in children. If your child’s grandparents are babysitting regularly, it’s more likely your kid will be overweight. Bone-anchored hearing aids help kids with single-side deafness.

The best way to keep your kids vaccinations up-to-date is to keep a shot card. [Read about the updated immunization schedule.] Rapid flu tests are most accurate for young children. The new seasonal flu vaccine will contain an H1N1 strain.

Teens might exercise more if they think it’s fun. Video games aren’t the cause for your teen’s headaches. Tired teens are more prone to car crashes. A lack of morning light can cause irregular sleep for teens. {Read how late bedtimes affect teens mental health.]

Preemie twins may face lower risks of certain complications versus single preemie babies. Does an adult’s health differ when they’re an IVF baby? Bilingualism may begin in the womb. The average birth weight in the United States in on the decline.

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