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Morning Rounds: Dangers of teens losing sleep

NORFOLK, Va. - A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics revealed most teenagers are not getting enough sleep and exercise.  News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light said that can cause serious health dangers.

"Chronic lack of sleep and exercise in teenagers has been closely associated with hypertension, obesity, diabetes, depression and anxiety, decreased brain function, memory loss, and weakened immune systems," he explained on News 3 This Morning.

Dr. Light said sleep research suggests teenagers need between eight and 10 hours of sleep every night, which is more than children and adults.  However, he said most teenagers actually get about 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep each night.

"Chronic lack of sleep can have dramatic effects on a teenager’s life," said Dr. Light.  "[An] impact on mental well being, increased risk of depression, and anxiety that can lead to poor academic performance commonly result from sleep deprivation."

He continued, "Lack of exercise leads to lifelong problems with high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, stroke and heart attack."

Dr. Light said all hope is not lost.

"Good sleep hygiene and daily exercise, if started at any time in life, will help reduce the detrimental effects," he said. "It is never to later to improve one’s health. However, the earlier you start, the better the results."

Dr. Light shared these tips to help teenagers get more rest:

  • Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes
  • Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine
  • Avoid the use of devices one hour prior to bedtime and limit screen time throughout the day
  • Encourage exercising to promote good quality sleep and overall health
  • Ensure adequate exposure to natural light
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine and control the sleeping environment
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