Local Physician Shares These Top Tips to Help Teens Successfully Balance School & Social Activities
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By Angel Biasatti, Director of Community and Public Relations
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center
Heading back to school can be an exciting time for many teens as they catch up with friends and begin extracurricular activities. However, readjusting to a busy schedule and poor sleep habits can cause some teens to have physical and emotional issues like stress, depression, and sleeplessness.
In a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 46 percent of teens said they felt depressed or anxious due to lack of sleep. As your teens approach college and adulthood, it’s important that they develop good sleep habits for physical and emotional health. On average, teens need eight to nine hours of sleep a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
“Fewer hours of sleep could affect a teen’s ability to concentrate or perform daily activities and may lead teens to grab sugary snacks or caffeine-laden beverages for extra energy,” says Juan Gavaldá, MD, family medicine physician on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center - Mansfield, TX. “Sleep is important for a teen’s good health along with a balanced diet and routine schedule.”
Dr. Gavaldá offers the following tips to help parents keep their teens healthy and have a successful school year.
· Limit electronic screen time one hour before bedtime. While it may seem harmless to let your children play a quick video game or interact with an app before going to bed, electronics emit light that may interfere with the body’s waking and sleeping processes.
- Be supportive. Ask your teens how their day went during dinner or when you get home. Discuss exciting new projects at school or ask about their current challenges or fears.
- Reiterate good study habits. A great deal of school stress and lack of sleep may be related to starting homework or projects at the last minute. Ask about big assignments or projects at school and offer to help map out a timeline to work on them 30 minutes a week. This way students aren’t frantic and scrambling to put everything together at the last minute during a late-night study session.
- Set the schedule early. If your teens have been sleeping in late or spending lots of time with friends after school, help them get back in the school groove by setting curfew earlier and limiting socialization with friends to weekends.,
Don’t overschedule. While extracurricular activities can provide a great creative outlet for teenagers and promote teamwork, combined with schoolwork and other responsibilities, your teens could be missing out on the here and now, says Dr. Gavaldá.
- Choose one activity. Your teenagers may want to play basketball and baseball and sing in the choir. However, have them pick the activity that matters most and one in which they excel to prevent them from feeling pulled in too many directions. Some activities can wait until the second semester.
- Put it in writing. Once you’ve discussed the schedule, help your children stay organized by keeping a calendar and goals for each month. For each goal met — good grades or a new skill learned — provide positive feedback.
- Create a chill-out zone. Teens are constantly connected to the internet through their cellphones and social media. Have your children take a time-out when they get home. It can be as simple as sitting outside in the backyard, shooting some hoops, or having a quiet place in your living room for them to listen to music or meditate. Have your children leave their phones at the front door and limit internet and television screen time.
- Make your teens’ bedrooms a digital-free zone at night. Texting, making phone calls, watching television, and playing on the computer should be off limits after bedtime. Keep distractions like game systems and cellphones in the family common area so you can monitor the hours they’re in use.
- Seek help. If your children are still having difficulty getting to sleep or don’t feel refreshed when waking up despite efforts to get a good night’s rest, they could have a sleep disorder. Speak with your children’s physician about potential problems or any troublesome symptoms, such as snoring, falling asleep during daytime hours, or difficulty sleeping at night.
To find a Methodist Mansfield physician, call 214-947-6296 or visit MethodistHealthSystem.org/FindADoctor.