February 3, 2018

PARTICULARLY WHEN THEIR FATHER...(self-reference alert):

Technology Adds to Bedtime Distractions (Kelly Burch, 2/02/18, Valley Parents)

When it comes to the many battles between teenagers and their parents, sleep is often at the top of the list, especially with teens constantly plugged in to technology. Parents get frustrated when they wake in the middle of the night and see the tell-tale glow emanating from their child's room long after lights-out. Teens become irritated when they're told to go to sleep when they're still feeling wide awake, or to hand over devices that are their lifelines to their social circles. Yet everyone is cranky when mornings devolve as tired teens who were up too late scrolling struggle to get out the door on time.

"Being sleep deprived has negative consequences in terms of mood and school performance, driving safety," said Dr. Brooke Judd, the section chief of sleep medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. [...]

The addition of technology -- particularly smartphones and tablets -- has made an already fraught situation even more difficult, adding a behavioral aspect to the physiological reasons teens are going to bed late.

"They might be tired, but become very involved in using their devices, phones or the internet," Judd said. "Then they're more voluntarily delaying their sleep."

Whether it's stress from interpersonal relationships or worry about the news alerts that they see online, technology use can ramp teens up at a time when they should be unwinding.

"Anybody who is getting more emotionally activated, (will find) it harder to get to sleep in general," Judd said.

Another important issue is the fact that the light from screens and tablets can activate the brain, delaying production of melatonin, a hormone that helps facilitate sleep. Although people have spent time unwinding in front of screens for generations, the blue light given off by LED devices suppresses melatonin more than any other type of light. The effect is even stronger when the light source is held close to your eyes, as phones and tablets often are, Judd said.

Although Americans -- and teens in particular -- are loathe to put down their devices, Judd said doing so is essential for establishing healthy sleep habits.

"We say try to eliminate screen use in terms of tablets, phones and other devices that are close to your eyes after 9 p.m.," she said. "That is partially to minimize the effect that that light has on altering the circadian rhythms, but also to provide some wind-down time away from the devices."

Judd, who has raised three teenagers, does not allow her kids to use devices in their beds.

"I feel very strongly about enforcing that it's important to get enough sleep, which is really difficult with (modern) lifestyles," she said.

Rather than enforcing a specific bedtime -- which might be met with resistance -- Judd recommends that parents keep an open dialogue with their teens about the importance of healthy sleep habits.

"A teenager naturally wants to have more control over these personal decisions, and truly may not be sleepy at (the) same time as their parents," she said. "You can't force someone to fall asleep, so instead of enforcing bedtime, promote the habits that will help them be able to get enough sleep."

...sleeps 8:30 to 4:30....

Posted by at February 3, 2018 7:57 AM