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Shhh...My teen is still sleeping

Signs your teen may have a serious medical condition.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — If you find yourself constantly knocking on your teens door at 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning you're not alone. 

It's true teens need their sleep during these developmental years because their bodies are surging with hormones, growing, and developing on a emotional level. All things that lead up to becoming an adult.

But there is cause for concern if they're getting too much sleep.

Dr. Hovig Artinian A  Pediatric Pulmonologist with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital says if you're child sleeping or napping a lot during the day it could be a sign of narcolepsy, "If your finding that despite weeks of adequate hours of sleep for their age they are still sleepy, having trouble focusing, or maybe they've been diagnosed with other problem maybe they have depression or ADHD. Sometimes that can be related to sleep and you should see a pediatric sleep specialist."

HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS CHECKLIST

1. Have a consistent sleep schedule. Wake up and go to bed at about the same time on weeknights and weekend nights. Bedtime and wake time should not differ from day to day by more than 1 hour.

2. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. Make the 30 minutes before bed wind-down time. NO TECHNOLOGY! Do not watch TV or use electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.). Avoid vigorous exercise during this time; do something relaxing instead, such as playing with quiet toys, reading a book, or listening to soothing music.

3. Create an environment that is only for sleeping. This means the bedroom should be comfortable, quiet, and dark. Also, make sure the room is not too warm, as warm temperatures interfere with sleep. Best temperature is around 65-70 degrees. It is also very important to get all technology (TV, cell phones, computers, tablets, etc.) out of the bedroom.

4. Have a light snack before bed. Eat regular meals throughout the day and have a light snack before bed. A healthy, light snack such as yogurt, glass of milk, or cheese-stick can facilitate sleep. Do not eat large amounts of sugar or chocolate.

5. Exercise regularly (but not too close to bedtime). The best time to exercise is first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon. Avoid strenuous physical exertion right before bed.

6. Enjoy the sunshine in the morning. Open all the curtains in the morning and allow natural light to flood inside your home. Try to spend time outside every day, especially in the morning, as exposure to sunlight or bright light helps to keep the body’s internal clock on track. However, it is important to limit light exposure in the evening, especially after dinner. This means turning down overhead lights and reducing the brightness of screens (e.g., computers, tablets).

7. Avoid naps if you are having trouble falling asleep at bedtime. Naps are developmentally appropriate in young children, and some adolescents benefit from a short afternoon nap (20-30 minutes right after school). However, for those who have difficulties falling asleep at bedtime, naps can make this even worse.

8. Do not consume caffeine after 4 p.m. or within 6 hours of bedtime. Caffeine has a half-life of 4 to 6 hours, which means it can keep you awake 4 to 6 hours after you take it. Be aware of all the things that have caffeine. You may know that many sodas, coffee, iced tea, and dark chocolate have caffeine. But you can also find caffeine in less obvious products like certain waters, juice drinks, gum, and candy bars. Some medications also contain caffeine. In general, children should not be consuming caffeine.

Just like the dentist asks you to brush and floss twice a day or your doctor asks you to eat five fruits and vegetables and exercise 30-60 minutes every day, healthy sleep habits will help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep, and wake more refreshed in the morning. Consistency with healthy sleep habits is essential to achieve quality sleep.

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