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U.S. Study Finds Nearly Half Of Parents Report Sleep Problems In Teenagers

Many parents think screen time is to blame.
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According to a new U.S. poll, nearly half of parents say their teen experiences regular sleep problems, with many believing that too much screen time is to blame.

The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at the University of Michigan questioned 1,018 parents with at least one child age 13 to 18 years old on their child's sleep habits, asking what they think may be causing sleep disturbances.

Nearly half of parents report their teens have sleep problems

Nearly half of the parents (43 per cent) reported that their teen has problems falling asleep at night or wakes up in the night and struggles to get back to sleep.

Of these parents, around 25 per cent said their teen experienced these sleep problems one to two nights per week, and 18 per cent reported that their teen struggles with sleep three or more nights per week.

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Screen time, homework, school, social life among the suspected reasons

As to what is causing sleep disturbances, using electronic devices — including social media — was the number one reason given by parents, reported by 56 per cent of those surveyed.

Homework and other activities causing irregular sleep schedules was the reason given by 43 per cent of parents, while 31 per cent say teens worrying about school is affecting their child's shut-eye, and 23 per cent say it is due to worrying about their social life.

Possible strategies

Many parents added that they have tried a number of different strategies at home to improve sleep, including reducing caffeine intake in the evening, turning off electronics and cell phones at bedtime, and natural or herbal remedies, which were also the top recommendations given when parents consulted a doctor about their child's sleep problems.

More than a quarter of parents (28 per cent) also reported that their teen has used some type of medication to remedy the problem.

"Parents whose teens continue to have frequent sleep problems, despite following recommendations for healthy sleep hygiene, may want to talk with a health care provider, particularly when considering which type of medication to try," says poll co-director Sarah Clark, M.P.H. "Inadequate or disrupted sleep can have long-lasting health effects that go beyond moodiness and irritability for teens."

"Sleep-deprived teens may have difficulty concentrating in school and those who drive have an increased risk of auto accidents. Inadequate sleep has also been linked to health problems ranging from obesity to depression," added Clark.

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