Pediatricians warn of risk of short sleep

Pediatrician in Gastonia, NC

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With your kids going back to school, you may be getting a little more rest — but pediatricians warn that your children may not be getting enough. It’s not your imagination, or your teenage son or daughter’s willfulness, that it’s getting harder and harder to get him or her to sleep at night or up in the morning. Pediatricians say that part of puberty is a change in the body’s natural rhythm which makes adolescents and teenagers more inclined to sleep later and stay up later.

In theory, this shouldn’t be a problem. As long as they get enough sleep, it shouldn’t make that much difference when they get it. But if they’re being awakened at six or seven a.m., and then re-awakened when they fall asleep in mid-“I AM GETTING UP!,” that may be a problem. Adolescents who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to excessive weight, lethargy, poor academic performance, the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco and the symptoms of depression.

This one’s on us

A CDC study, using U.S. Department of Education data from 2011-2012, found that in 42 states, three quarters or more middle and high schools start before 8:30 a.m. (The average start time in North Carolina is 8:03 a.m.)

If teenagers are biologically wired to sleep late, and we keep waking them up early, it’s our fault. The modern school schedule is very old, and built around a variety of needs, including the need for parents to get their children out the door before they themselves have to leave for work. It is not built around the medical needs of adolescents and teenagers.

There are steps you can take to help your teenagers get to bed earlier. Make sure they don’t watch TV or use the computer for an hour before bed. Encourage them to do homework in the afternoon. But speaking to other parents and talking to Gastonia, NC school officials about beginning classes a little later would also be a good idea.

Pediatricians in Gastonia, NC

The best time to look for a pediatrician in your area is when your child is perfectly healthy, you are not in a hurry and you can afford to take the time to find the best. Gastonia Pediatric Associates is a pediatric clinic in a convenient location within the Charlotte area. It is one of the first medical practices for children in this area, and is owned and directed by its own physicians. It offers medical advice for parents 24 hours a day, and has provided personalized service to three generations of families. Its staff includes three physicians and three nursing staff. If you need a pediatrician for your family, contact Gastonia Pediatrics today.