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Poll: Should we be worried about teenagers sleep?

Should we be worried about teenagers sleep

Should we be worried about teenagers sleep

“Not only do sleepy teens on average eat more food that’s bad for them, they also eat less food that is good for them,” study researcher Lauren Hale, Ph.D., an associate professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, said in a statement. “While we already know that sleep duration is associated with a range of health consequences, this study speaks to some of the mechanisms, i.e., nutrition and decision making, through which health outcomes are affected.”

Sleep-Deprived Teens Skimp on Produce, Eat More Unhealthy Foods, Huffington Post

I think youth ministry and sleep deprivation go hand-in-hand, particularly with high school students. Our weekly often program runs past 9:00 PM, I’ve been known to get home past 10:00 PM. (And I know students still have homework to do.) At overnight events we tend to run programming late into the night and start early the next morning. On top of that, if a student is playing a sport or in a school play we know they haven’t been home. They are dead tired but we appreciated their diligence. 

Anecdotally, we say that teenagers tend to stay up late so it’s OK. We don’t think much of teenagers sleep because we assume that they can take care of themselves.

Physiologically, we all know teenagers need more sleep than adults because they are growing so much during puberty. When our teenagers aren’t getting enough sleep it negatively impacts lots of areas of their lives.

Toss in a dose of religious experience and sugary foods at a retreat and you have something to consider.

When Did Sleep Deprivation Become Part of Youth Ministry?

As an undergrad studying youth ministry, I definitely associated sleep deprivation a life in ministry. I worked a full-time job from 4 AM – Noon, then took classes from 1 PM – 6 PM, during my final year I even had an internship that had me at the church 10-15 hours per week… plus we had a newborn daughter at home. 2001-2002 was powered by Starbucks and adrenaline. That association between powering through and my ministry developed into full-fledged bad habits. I assumed that if I could power through on virtually no sleep, that everyone could and probably should.

I’ve talked to lots of peers in youth ministry who say staying up super late or powering sleepless through a mission trip became a bit of a rite of passage.

But is it healthy? Is it good for teenagers? And if you recognized that something was wrong would you change?

Those are the questions for today’s poll. I’m curious what you think about teenage sleep. 

Photo credit: Sleeping by Ed Yourdon via Flickr (Creative Commons)
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2 thoughts on “Poll: Should we be worried about teenagers sleep?

  1. […] 3. Schedule for enough sleep and enforce lights out to ensure a team that is as well-rested as possible. Rested students are safer at worksites, better able to serve others well and more emotionally able to handle the stresses of the mission environment. The Youth Cartel has an interesting piece this week on lack of sleep in teenagers. Read it here! […]

  2. Hello, I read your blog like every week. Your writing style
    is witty, keep up the good work!

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