Report roundup: Troubles with teen sleep

Sleep is important to staying healthy, yet many teens struggle to get sufficient sleep. This month’s Mott Poll report asked parents about how often their teens age 13-18 experience sleep problems and what they do to address it. Parents and media across the country have been weighing in on this topic. Here’s a roundup of the conversation.

Sleep distractions

Almost half of parents in the Mott Poll said their child has trouble sleeping. Reasons included electronics, worry about school and social life, and irregular sleep schedules. This was highlighted in a LiveHappy article, What’s keeping your teens up at night? Reporter Chris Libby noted that teenagers are increasingly pulled in many directions, from school to clubs and after-school activities, and these things often interfere with teens’ sleep. “Teenagers staying up late isn’t new,” says Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark. “I’ll bet if you look at the average life of a family, teens’ lives are more packed with evening events than maybe 10, 15 or 20 years ago.”

Screen time interrupts sleep time

Fifty-six percent of parents in the Mott Poll said the reason their teen has trouble sleeping is because they won’t get off electronics, social media, or their phones. This was featured in an NPR article, Teens sleeping too much, or not enough? Parents can help. Reporter April Fulton suggests that parents can take a more active role in their teen’s electronic use around bedtime by leading by example – putting their own electronics away at bedtime. Fulton also notes that the number of teens having difficulty sleeping is likely larger than the Poll suggests, as Clark notes that teens could be hiding their devices at bedtime and parents may not be as diligent in monitoring their older kids.

Tips for parents

How can parents better manage their child’s sleep problems? U-M Mott adolescent medicine physician Dr. Ellen Selkie offers some tips for parents in a Michigan Health Blog Post, 10 tips to help your teen sleep better. Dr. Selkie suggests parents enforce rules about electronics with their children, such as charging their phones somewhere other than the bedroom. “Many teens I’ve seen in my own practice actually describe a sense of relief when their parents limit phone use because it takes away some of that pressure to keep up with social news and what their peers are up to.” She also recommends maintaining a regular sleep schedule, as sleeping in later during the weekend or “catching up” on sleep can make it more difficult to adjust to a normal schedule during the week. If all else fails, Dr. Selkie suggests talking to a healthcare provider: “If a teen continues to have problems falling asleep or is waking up multiple times a night despite healthy sleep hygiene habits, speak to a sleep specialist.”

For more coverage on this month’s Mott Poll report, check out these articles from HealthDay, Huffington Post, and WDIV-Detroit.