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Caffeine Plus Multimedia = Tired Teens

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Dr. Alanna Levine: Why aren't teens getting the recommended nine hours of sleep per night that they need? First of all, adolescents are biologically programmed to stay awake until 11 PM. Pair that with easy access to late-night multimedia technology, and early school start times, and you get teenagers who are spending their waking hours tired. So what do they do? They enjoy a cup of coffee to stay awake, or worse yet, a caffeinated energy drink.

teenage boy puring energy drink into a glass

A new study in the June issue of Pediatrics titled, "Adolescents Living the 24/7 Lifestyle: Effects of Caffeine and Technology on Sleep Duration and Daytime Functioning," found that caffeine coupled with late-night computer use, text messaging, and TV viewing is contributing to their daytime fatigue. This lack of sleep has previously been linked to mood disorders, obesity, decreased cognition, and a lowered sense of overall well-being.

We all know that it's hard to resist the urge to check an e-mail or a text message when you hear the all-too-familiar beep. Teens are no exception. In fact, they often manage multiple instant message sessions while surfing the web and watching TV. However, the more nighttime hours teens spend multi-tasking with technology, the harder it is for them to fall asleep. And sleep deprivation leads to daytime fatigue and increased caffeine consumption, which in turn causes a vicious cycle of continued sleepiness, caffeine intake,and sleep problems.

What can parents do to help promote good sleep habits in their teenagers?

* Be aware of how late your teens are on the computer, on the telephone, watching TV, and text messaging. This multi-tasking is preventing them from sensing when they are truly tired.

* Avoid caffeinated beverages late in the day or into the evening. Monitor how much caffeine they consume, especially the high energy drinks that have more caffeine than traditional soft drinks.

Does your teen stay up till all hours? What are you doing to break them of this habit?

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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kirstie June 6, 2009, 10:04 AM

When I stayed up until ridiculous hours in high school, the computer and television weren’t the problem - it was my workload! With a rehearsal until 5, cheerleading until 8, and a small mountain of assignments for my honors and AP level classes, getting to bed before 1 was always a challenge. And the bus picked us up for school at 7:05!

Once the fall cheer season ended, things got slightly less stressful, but by then rehearsals tended to stretch later and later, and become more numerous. Funny, though, I never remembered being overly tired in high school - I think you just adjust to the crazy hours you keep, after a while.

I’m in college now, and have less demands on my time (which sounds strange, I know, but I have less busy written work assigned to do on a daily basis, and instead get more meaningful, long term projects which I can budget my time for) and I get a lot more sleep now. I’m not naturally a night owl at ALL - I like to get my work done early, and get to sleep at what I consider to be a reasonable time (still 12-12:30, but I sleep until 8:30 now!).

Neither mode of operations seemed to have any negative effect on me - I might *like* my current schedule better, but from a health and grade standpoint I’m unchanged.

Sharon McEachern June 6, 2009, 5:34 PM

Have you heard about the warning from pediatricians and emergency doctors in Italy? It too is about teens and caffeine. A 13-year-old from Naples was hospitalized with “caffeine intoxication” from caffeine-loaded chewing gum. The kid chomped on two packs within 4 hours.

The risk of intoxication is high in kids and teengers because of “caffeine-naivety” (no built-up resistance) and the unrestricted sale of caffeinated food and drink.

Ethic soup blog has a really good article on teenagers and caffeine at:

Jovan Kjelland December 6, 2010, 12:20 PM

You have invigorated me, I must write something about it.

zagęszczarki December 16, 2010, 9:14 AM

nice article

usuwanie cellulitu białystok December 20, 2010, 7:15 AM

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usuwanie cellulitu białystok December 20, 2010, 7:15 AM

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