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Dear Dish-It: Friday Digest

November 14, 2014

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Dear readers, thank you for all of your thoughtful and though provoking questions this week. Although we would LOVE to reply to every single one, it takes time to get to them all. I am going to randomly select a few and answer them here, on Dish-it: Digest. 

Not enough sleep, too much noise, no homework. 

Question: Dear Dish-it: I am having a tough time. I cant sleep properly, you know teenagers need at least 9hrs sleep, but due to weird school timing and tuition.. I am not getting enough time to sleep. I have to sacrifice 3hrs sleep, every day. i thought of studying in school, but at school the buzzing noise and screams makes it difficult for me to study. We can't even carry a cell or any electronic equipment to school.. I was hoping that I would be able to turn on some white noise and study. There is no quiet place at school. Help me out. Due to lack of sleep, I feel I am unable to perform to the level I am capable of. Thanks

Answer: You are correct in assuming that sleep for a teenager is very important and in today's rushed world it seems to be the thing that get's overlooked and under prioritized more and more. Sleep is food for the brain. During sleep, important body functions and brain activity occur. Skipping sleep, as you know can be harmful leading to feeling moody, overwhelmed, and as you have noticed it impacts your ability to perform at school. 

Teen Stress 101Teen Stress 101Courtesy of Oliver McCabe

Here are a few sleep facts: 

  • Sleep is vital to your well being, as important as the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. It can even help you eat better and manage the stress of being a teen. 
  • Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence - meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00pm. 
  • Teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night to function best, some is a little less, some a little more. 
  • Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week - they typically stay up late & sleep in on the weekends, which can effect your biological clocks and hurt the over all quality of your sleep (when you do get some!)

Consequences: 

Not getting enough sleep or having sleep difficulties can: 

  • Limit your ability to learn, listen concentrate and solve problems. You may even forget important information like names, numbers, your homework or a date with that special someone. 
  • Make you more prone to pimples. Lack of sleep can contribute to acne and other skin problems. 
  • Lead to aggressive behavior. 
  • Cause you to eat to much or eat unhealthy foods like sweets and fried foods that lead to weight gain. 

Solutions: 

  • Make sleep a priority. Make a time diary, keep track for a while, learn about when it would be best to rearrange something in order to get enough sleep and be healthy, happy and smart! 
  • Naps can help pick you up and make you work more efficiently. If you plan them right, not to long, or too close to bed time can be useful to refuel. 
  • Make your room a sleep haven. Keep it cool, quiet and dark. If you need to, wear a sleep mask. It will fall off during the night after you are sleeping and that way the morning light will still be able to get in to naturally tell your body it's time to get up. 
  • No pills, vitamins, or drinks can replace a good sleep. Consuming caffeine close to bedtime can hurt your sleep so avoid coffee, tea soda/pop and chocolate late in the day. 
  • Establish a bed and wake up time and stick to it, coming as close as you can on the weekends. A consistent sleep pattern will help you feel less tired since it allows your body to get into sync with its natural patterns. 
  • Don't drink, eat, or exercise within a few hours of your bed time. Try not to leave your homework  for the last minute. Try to avoid the TV, computer and your phone in the hour before you go to bed. 

Now that we have the facts on sleep - let's come up with a plan to get you enough sleep that you can be your best sleep! 

Homework is important - if you have the time to do it at school - there are a few tips I can offer on how to block out the sound in order to concentrate better. I am the same way, and to this day use noise canceling head phone any time I am working or writing. 

  1. Talk to your teachers: make an appointment, have a reasonable conversation expressing your concerns and then ask them to help you find a quiet room in which you might Be able to do your work. This is not an unreasonable ask. 
  2. Ear Plugs: Purchase a set of squishy, foam ear plugs. Most pharmacies carry them and they cost less than a dollar. Although they are disposable, you can use them repeatedly as long as you put them into a safe space between uses. They will deaden all immediate noise and help you focus a little bit easier. 
  3. Take a nap: After dinner, take a small 12-18 minute nap. BUT before you do, get your homework material ready to go that when when you wake up refreshed you can quickly move on to getting your assignments complete. Just a cautionary note - set an alarm - and don't play with your phone while you are laying there - that is NOT napping :) 
  4. Wake up/Go to sleep at the same time: You know you have homework, if you can use some ear plus or a quiet room to get even a bit done - know you have more to do - have your nap and then study.. go to sleep at the same time every night - factoring in the study time. Can you cut back on an hour of home work in the evening, allowing your self to go to bed a bit earlier and wake up an hour earlier as well and finish in the morning. 
  5. Be creative: if you can't do it all at the same time, break it up and slot it into time blocks. The key is consistency.. our bodies LOVE routine. Be creative in making a schedule that is unique to YOU. 

Am I loved? 

Question: In my opinion my parents don't act like they love me. I have talked but all they do is say we will talk about this later but they don't. How do I let them know I don't feel loved. 

Answer: You are loved. Let's say one thing and get it straight - YOU ARE LOVED. Here's the thing about parents.. sometimes anyway. Parents are people too. They are imperfect, they try their best come up short, make mistakes, take their children for granted & even sometimes hurt the ones they love the most - usually this is unintentional. It's hard to imagine your parents - being people too. It's true though. 

Have you ever suggested or considered a family meeting. I think this works fairly well as it allows everyone a chance to speak - and if you invite them and set a date. Put it on the calendar and hold them too it. I would even go so far as to make an agenda: Start at 6 pm on a Sunday evening perhaps. You can even invite them to add any items to the agenda that they would like to speak about as well. After you have confirmed your "Meeting".. you have some homework to do. 

YOU ARE LOVEDYOU ARE LOVED

What does LOVED feel like to you? Make a note and write down all the ways you would feel loved.. Is it daily affirmations? Hugs? Afterschool Conversations? Time spent together consistently? Meals together? Getting tucked in a night? Text messages that say "love you, thinking of you".. there are a million ways and they are different  to each of us. One thing that might be helpful would be to give your parents a hint.. maybe write down ten ways that they could show you that they care? It might be a nice reminder to them and will get you what you need as well. 

Lastly, on the day or night of your family meeting.. remember to speak with love. They are doing their best - and through clear communication anything can be worked out. 

That's it for this edition of Dear Dish-It. see you next time!