The Drug Class Blog

Nov 03

Get some sleep

We have talked about this in class.  One of the things that causes problems is not getting enough sleep because of talking or texting.  We all need uninterrupted sleep.  Check out this article from the Vancouver Sun

Kids who surf the Internet or text message when they should be tucking in for the night are showing ill-effects like insomnia, mood and learning problems, according to a study presented to a doctors' meeting in Vancouver this week.

Dr. Peter Polos, the lead author of the study about the toll that electronic media are taking on adolescents and teenagers, said in an interview Tuesday that parents have to intervene to undo the patterns that are keeping kids up far too late.

"And that's because kids don't want to acknowledge that they are losing sleep over their habits. They aren't the ones worried about sleep because they're at ages when they feel it's no big deal."

But Polos, from JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J., said it is a big deal. As a specialist in sleep and lung function, he treats children with sleep problems that inhibit their cognition and set them up for problems at school and in other areas of their life.

His study asked such patients about their bedtime habits. What he discovered was a staggering level of disturbances from electronic media.

Indeed, he found that in the 10 minutes to four hours before kids fell asleep, they received an average of 3,404 texts and/ or e-mails per month.

Boys were more likely to surf the Internet and play online games while girls talked on their cellphones and texted, according to the study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, attended by nearly 5,000 doctors.

Polos concedes electronic devices may either be causing insomnia or may be something kids do because they can't fall asleep, or both.

"It's safe to say that if you are an insomniac, the last thing you should be doing is texting or going on the computer to play games late at night.

"Good sleep habits are formed early in life and kids are setting themselves up for problems if they don't get in that kind of routine early. Parents should be setting an example by turning off the television and their own electronic devices long before bedtime because we know that overstimulation keeps us all up longer."

Polos said the problem with digital and electronic communication is that it is so interactive. Kids playing video games are obsessed with scores and those who are texting are anticipating responses to messages. The fact that they are doing this in dimly lit rooms is no help since the devices themselves have "light blaring into their eyes."

"These are issues that are not going away," he said. "These activities are a fact of our lives. And ever since the advent of the light bulb, and then the phone and the television, we have been getting less sleep.

"Add a global economy to the mix and you can see why sleep is constantly under threat throughout life," he said.

In the study by Polos and several colleagues at the JFK Sleep Clinic, subjects between the ages of eight and 22 (mean age 14.5) completed a survey asking about their use of electronic media at bedtime. Generally speaking, the older the children, the longer they stayed up and the more time they spent using electronic media.

"Using cellphones or computers ... with all the graphics and rapid responses, is more addictive, seductive and interactive than passively watching television. The sooner parents establish appropriate times for children to use this technology the better," he said, warning that computers should be located away from a child's bedroom.

In a written statement commenting on the study, David Gutterman, president of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), said:

"The prevalence of insomnia and other sleep disorders is cause for great concern, given their potential consequences on a child's ability to function in school. Research shows that the problem is increasing so it is more important than ever for physicians to ask questions about technology use when evaluating children for sleep issues."

The ACCP represents 18,000 doctors around the world.

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