Yesterday morning I had a realization that I shared with my wife.
“Last night is the first night in FOREVER that I have actually slept well!”
Really, this is sad if I am honest with myself. In so many ways I have allowed myself to get stressed and worked up about too many things that inevitably pour over into my sleep cycles. Usually I wake up grumpy and not ready to face my day because of my typical lack of sleep.
Like so many others my bedtime includes watching some TV or checking Twitter before I close my eyes.
And, I have been wondering if maybe there is something to this. While we all agree that our kids need to have a pretty regimented sleep\wake rhythm established early in life, we tend to feel like we are excluded from this rule. In fact, the importance of sleep is being lost on mid-adolescents in a real way according to a recent study by Columbia University referenced in the Chicago Tribune by Sue Hubbard. In her article she notes the importance of a strict 10 PM bedtime:
“…shows that adolescents and teens with strict bedtimes of 10 p.m. or earlier were less likely to be depressed and to have suicidal thoughts than classmates whose parents allowed them to stay up until midnight or even later.”
And, according to this research, less than 8 percent of the 12,000 adolescents interviewed go the recommended 9 hours of sleep.
That is a lot of depressed and tired kids!
One of my favorite things to do each summer is to go to the mountains of Colorado and camp. A real treat of camping is how your body adjusts to the natural day\night cycle. When you are deep in the mountains, your body naturally shuts down when the sun starts to set. Really, your body does not care what time it actually is. For some reason when darkness sets in and there is little artificial light to overcome it, my body knows it is time to sleep. And, when the sun hits the tent in the morning, it is time to wake up!
Is there something to this?
I think so. In fact Hubbard gives this advice to parents regarding getting their teenagers to sleep on time each night:
“As you know, I believe it’s critical for all teens to have a firm bedtime. Begin winding down their night by turning off all electronics 1/2 hour before they head to bed. There should be no TV on in the background and cell phones should be charging in the kitchen.”
For Hubbard the key for a regular bedtime is eliminating electronics at least a half an hour before bed. In fact, the bedroom should be a no-electronics zone.
In other words let night time be for sleep, not for artificially stimulating your brain!
For so many reasons this should be true for the rest of us. What if we decided to take the TV out of our rooms and charge our cell phones in another room? What if the bedroom was, in fact, for sleeping?
What do you think about this? Is the idea that using electronics such as cell phones, iPads, and TV’s impede sleep cycles? What research have you seen that would support\disprove the research cited in this article?
Sleep well tonight!
Note: For many of you the school year is fast approaching and the time will come for your children to shift out of the summer sleep schedule into the school year rhythm. This article offers some good insight on what to expect and how to be pro-active in enforcing earlier bedtimes.