Healthy Living: The importance of adequate sleep

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With current sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, let's be honest, most of us aren't getting the sleep we need to succeed.

For students back in school and adjusting to sleep schedules -- adequate sleep, or lack there of, could make all the difference.

In this week's Healthy Living, we look at how a lack of sleep is more than just annoying, it can actually impact your health, career and relationships.

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine says a natural shift toward a later sleep/wake cycle occurs during adolescence, which may be why you can't get your teen in bed before 11 p.m.

“It’s important to recognize that they sometimes are a little slow going in the morning,” said Dr. James Polo, Regence BlueShield Executive Medical Director.

He says kids should get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night, but only about half of kids actually get that.

"What’s important is for parents to really start at a young age so kids have a routine and really understand the importance of sleep,” Dr. Polo said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not getting enough sleep can increase the risk for things like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke, as well as poor mental health and even early death.

“Without sleep children are not going to grow and develop normally,” Dr. Polo said.

But there's hope when it comes to living a restful life -- It begins at your fingertips.

Our device screens give off blue light, the brain then interprets it as daylight.

“Turn off the cell phones, do something else to go to sleep," Dr. Polo said.

But that's not always easy, especially for a teenager.

So instead, take a step in the right direction and enable "night mode" on your iPhone or "dark mode" on an Android device.

Some other tips from the National Sleep Foundation for both teens and adults suggest giving yourself a bedtime and a wake time -- and stick to it!

Create a bedtime ritual.

Some ideas: read for a half hour, take a nightly bath or even do a 10 minute meditation.

Keep your bedroom cool, but not cold. It's easier to get tired and stay asleep in a room between 60 and 67 degrees.

You can also take a quick power nap. Experts say just 30 minutes can fix a poor night's sleep.

The american academy of pediatrics recommends that high school and middle school students start their day no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Seattle Public Schools responded to that recommendation in 2016 by moving start times to 8:55 in the morning.

We looked at schools in Pierce and Snohomish Counties, and we couldn’t find any with start times of 8:30 a.m. or later.

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