Fresh Leaf Forever

The Power of Sleep: How It Affects Adolescent Well-being and Achievement

June 09, 2023 Vai Kumar interviews Lisa Lewis Season 3 Episode 4
The Power of Sleep: How It Affects Adolescent Well-being and Achievement
Fresh Leaf Forever
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Fresh Leaf Forever
The Power of Sleep: How It Affects Adolescent Well-being and Achievement
Jun 09, 2023 Season 3 Episode 4
Vai Kumar interviews Lisa Lewis

Do you know how crucial sleep is for your teenager's health, mental well-being, and overall success?
Discover the vital role of sleep in adolescents as I sit down with seasoned journalist, book author, and public speaker Lisa Lewis, who shares her personal journey and passion for advocating for teen mental health and the importance of sleep.

My guest was instrumental in CA's legislation on regulating school start times and is the author of the New York Times reviewed book "The Sleep-Deprived Teen".

Lisa and I discuss the biological shift in circadian rhythms during puberty and explore the challenges posed by early school start times for our teens to get the recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.

We dive deep into the impact of sleep deprivation on various aspects of our teens' lives, including
1. mental health,
2.learning, and
3.technology management.


We traverse through the lack of sleep and its link to increased anger, emotional regulation difficulties, and even suicidal tendencies.
Lisa provides valuable expertise and insight on this crucial topic, making this episode essential listening for parents, educators, and everyone concerned about teen well-being.

Puberty, hormonal changes, sleep and menstrual cycle are all focus areas in this enlightening discussion.

As takeaways,  we discuss strategies for success and creating a healthy balance between technology and our lives, as well as the importance of prioritizing sleep for our teenagers and society as a whole.

Don't miss this engaging and informative episode, where we examine the critical role of sleep in the development and well-being of our teenagers, as well as the steps we can take to ensure they get the rest they need for a thriving future.

Every listener can appreciate the takeaways for not just teens, but for adults and our very young and growing minds alike! Remember, my goal is to offer solutions to real world issues and essentially sleep, mental health are great pillars to a sustainable living! 
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: THIS PODCAST IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE, NOR IS IT A SUBSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL ADVICE. CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN, THERAPIST FOR INDIVIDUAL

Send us a Text Message.

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Videos available on YouTube channel.
Follow host Vai on socials - Instagram , YouTube, LinkedIn for thought leadership content.
Head to my website for enlightening blogs & service offerings.
This podcast comes to you from Listen Ponder Change LLC, founded by Vai Kumar.
Every support the show contribution is much appreciated !!
Subscribe https://www.buzzsprout.com/1436179/support and help us amplify our voice and reach!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Do you know how crucial sleep is for your teenager's health, mental well-being, and overall success?
Discover the vital role of sleep in adolescents as I sit down with seasoned journalist, book author, and public speaker Lisa Lewis, who shares her personal journey and passion for advocating for teen mental health and the importance of sleep.

My guest was instrumental in CA's legislation on regulating school start times and is the author of the New York Times reviewed book "The Sleep-Deprived Teen".

Lisa and I discuss the biological shift in circadian rhythms during puberty and explore the challenges posed by early school start times for our teens to get the recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.

We dive deep into the impact of sleep deprivation on various aspects of our teens' lives, including
1. mental health,
2.learning, and
3.technology management.


We traverse through the lack of sleep and its link to increased anger, emotional regulation difficulties, and even suicidal tendencies.
Lisa provides valuable expertise and insight on this crucial topic, making this episode essential listening for parents, educators, and everyone concerned about teen well-being.

Puberty, hormonal changes, sleep and menstrual cycle are all focus areas in this enlightening discussion.

As takeaways,  we discuss strategies for success and creating a healthy balance between technology and our lives, as well as the importance of prioritizing sleep for our teenagers and society as a whole.

Don't miss this engaging and informative episode, where we examine the critical role of sleep in the development and well-being of our teenagers, as well as the steps we can take to ensure they get the rest they need for a thriving future.

Every listener can appreciate the takeaways for not just teens, but for adults and our very young and growing minds alike! Remember, my goal is to offer solutions to real world issues and essentially sleep, mental health are great pillars to a sustainable living! 
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: THIS PODCAST IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE, NOR IS IT A SUBSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL ADVICE. CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN, THERAPIST FOR INDIVIDUAL

Send us a Text Message.

Buzzsprout Get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

Enjoy PIOR Living products
Enjoy PIOR Living products at a 20% discount and free shipping on orders over $75 Code FLF20

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Videos available on YouTube channel.
Follow host Vai on socials - Instagram , YouTube, LinkedIn for thought leadership content.
Head to my website for enlightening blogs & service offerings.
This podcast comes to you from Listen Ponder Change LLC, founded by Vai Kumar.
Every support the show contribution is much appreciated !!
Subscribe https://www.buzzsprout.com/1436179/support and help us amplify our voice and reach!

Vai:

Welcome to Freshleaf Forever, a podcast that gives you fascinating insights week after week. Here's your host, vai kumar. Hey folks, welcome to another podcast of Freshleaf Forever. Today I have here with us Lisa Lewis, who is a seasoned and versatile freelance journalist, content marketing writer, author and public speaker dedicated to providing clear, engaging content tailored to her audience. Lisa has written for The Atlantic, the New York Times, the Washington Post and, most importantly, is the author of The New York Times Reviewed Book, the Sleep-Deprived Teen. She has been featured on the Today Show, bbc Radio and several podcast segments. It gives me so much joy to have Lisa here on podcast Freshly Forever. Hey, lisa, how are you today? Welcome to the podcast, thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

Vai:

Oh, such a pleasure seeing you and getting to talk to you today. I know you're a huge advocate of teen mental health, the importance of sleep in their lives, matter of fact, anyone's life correct, absolutely yeah. And teen success, because teen thriving is a result of so many factors, and one of which is sleep, and that's of paramount importance. Let me begin and set some context here for the audience by asking you what led you to focus on the importance of sleep.

Lisa Lewis:

Great question. So I am a parenting journalist, as you know, and I am also a parent, So oftentimes those two roles overlap, and that was, in fact, the case here, because the issue of teen sleep as it relates to school start times specifically hit my radar when it became an issue in my own household. That was back in 2015. So I have been immersed in this issue now literally for the last eight years. But 2015 was when my oldest was entering high school and at that point our local high school started at 730 in the morning, which is incredibly early. It was the earliest he had ever had to go to school up until that point And it just really became obvious almost immediately after his freshman year of high school started that it was just too early all the way around. So that is what spurred me to get involved and look more into the issue of why our school started so early, Quickly found out it was not unique to our school or our community. This was the case in communities around the country and beyond the United States, I should say And my involvement really just snowballed from there.

Lisa Lewis:

I started writing about it, got really involved in the issue, ended up actually getting heavily involved in our state law here in California. It was really an incredible journey and I absolutely could not have foreseen how it was all going to unspool. But as I got more involved 2015, my son's high school freshman year being the catalyst I started writing more about it. One of the articles that I wrote was an op-ed that ran in the Los Angeles Times the following fall. So fall of 2016, his sophomore year, he's still getting up and having to go to school every day at 7.30.

Lisa Lewis:

But the piece that I wrote was an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times called Why Schools Should Start Later in the Morning, And that just so happened to end up being read by one of our California state senators, Anthony Portantino. And again, some of this was luck, your happenstance. He had a high schooler of his own at that point, So he read this in the paper resonated with him enough that he decided to have his staff look into the issue, ended up introducing a bill on the topic. I got swept up in that entire journey and ended up testifying in Sacramento and our state capital on behalf of this bill, And it just was so immersed for gosh.

Lisa Lewis:

It was two and a half years, really, from the time the bill was introduced until it was signed into law, which was 2019. And then there was implementation window, So it didn't actually go into effect until July of 2022. As part of that whole process being immersed in this topic, I was in contact with all of these sleep researchers around the country, And so my book sort of came out of that whole experience. And a bit of luck was afoot here, because my book came out in June of 2022. Our law in California went into effect in July of 2022.

Vai:

Oh, how nice, Yeah. So I realized your personal experience as a parent and your experience with your son, or personally seeing what your son was going through, kind of went viral. That op-ed in the LA Times sort of because it happened to catch the eye of people that were involved in decision making, or impactful op-ed, i should say that led to you writing Sleep Deprived Team, that book, which was an outgrowth of your advocacy. So why don't you talk about your book, sleep Deprived Team, and why is sleep important for any individual? more so the adolescent phase laser?

Lisa Lewis:

Yes, And I think that is such a good point. What a critical phase adolescence is. The amount of change that our kids are going through during those teen years is so immense. I mean, we see it on the outside. They transform from children into adults. You look at an 18-year-old and they often look like adults. They're not yet, though, of course, because in fact they are still undergoing so much development that you can't see, you know, the stuff going on under the hood, the brain development, all the transformations taking place. You know, again back to that point, we look at them and they look like many adults, but they're really not, and they don't yet have adult sleep needs. They still have adolescent sleep needs, which are more so.

Lisa Lewis:

So, for instance, as an adult, we should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep every single night. Those are the official recommendations for our teens. So up until age 18, they should be getting eight to 10 hours every single night, And so I think it starts with that of just helping people understand, really, the amount of sleep that our teens should be getting for optimal functioning. So, in terms of my book, what I tried to do was provide all this information to parents and present it in a way that was easy to understand and sort of provide the context for it. So it was sort of truly, it was the book that I wish that I had had back in 2015, when Oh, absolutely.

Vai:

Every parent right. We all wrestle with this issue.

Lisa Lewis:

Absolutely, and there's so much that I think it helps once you understand some of the basics of sleep, starting with how much sleep our teens should be getting, also including really key aspects like the fact that our teens are actually on a different sleep schedule than we are as adults, because at puberty their sleep schedule starts to shift later.

Lisa Lewis:

It's their circadian rhythm shifts, and what that means is that they are no longer feeling sleepy as early as they used to, nor are they feeling rested and ready to wake up as early as they used to. So, as parents, if you've had a six year old who bounds out of bed at six thirty, you know they can be just ready to go right at dawn, but your teen is not going to do the same thing, and that is biologically based. So you've got a couple of these major truths when it comes to teen sleep that, a they need eight to ten hours of sleep. B they're on this later sleep schedule. And then, c the final piece of this equation often is the school start times, when they're so early. That makes it virtually impossible for teens who aren't feeling sleepy until later at night to be able to get enough sleep, because if they have to wake too early in the morning, chances are very, very good that they are not then able to get those eight to ten hours of sleep.

Vai:

Okay. So what then happens when the alarm clock goes off? Like there's always this inclination to hit the snooze button right, even for us adults, you know, like some of us are, like you know, only very few of us, i should say, are able to jump out right out of bed feeling like, okay, i'm ready for the morning. But, most of us tend to go for that snooze button.

Lisa Lewis:

I'm glad you brought that up, because that is one of the things that I do touch on in the book is when you look at ways that you can help avoid sort of cutting into your sleep more than you need to.

Lisa Lewis:

And unfortunately, using a snooze button actually is cutting into your sleep more than you need to, because that extra amount of sleep that you get after you hit the snooze button is negligible in terms of the overall whole And it's not as high quality as it would have been if you hadn't hit the snooze button at all and had just set your alarm clock for a later time. So there's that piece of it. That said, the Awaking Too Early really is an issue, and that's why, when it comes to our teens who are in middle school and high school, and when their schools are starting too early, that is a major piece of the problem. It is not the only thing affecting their sleep, but it is a major one, and it is fairly straightforward to address. Their early wake times are tied to their early school bells, and so if you can adjust the school bells, you can allow them to be able to sleep later in the morning.

Vai:

So do you think it's okay for elementary school kids to be going early to school Because at that age they are able to wake up early enough than middle schoolers or high schoolers? Is that a correct understanding, lisa?

Lisa Lewis:

That's a great question.

Lisa Lewis:

I'm glad you brought that up, because, by and large, yes, that is correct, in that our elementary schoolers are on an earlier schedule.

Lisa Lewis:

They have not yet had the circadian rhythm shift that I was mentioning, because they haven't yet had puberty, so, in general, they are able to fall asleep earlier and to wake earlier.

Lisa Lewis:

So what that means is that, oftentimes, when school districts are looking at changing their start times, they have to look at not just the middle and the high schools, but often the elementary schools too, because oftentimes, if they are offering bus transportation, they're using a single fleet of buses for an elementary, middle and high school, and so they've instituted a tiered system of drop offs and pickups so that they can get all the kids, you know, using those same buses, sure, and so oftentimes, in a scenario like that, where the middle or the high schoolers are going early, that means the elementary schools are going later, and so, if that's the case, they often can literally just flip flop.

Lisa Lewis:

The only caveat to that, though, is that you still don't want elementary schoolers starting school at the crack of dawn, and there are, even now, high schools that I was astounded when I did the research into this they weren't starting just as early as 730. They were some starting at 7am. So 7am is not good for elementary schoolers either. I mean, i think there is that common sense aspect that at some point there is a point that just is simply too early across the board.

Vai:

What, then, is like an ideal scenario, or like a good middle ground, so to speak, is 8am, like a fairly decent start for all of them. I know California now has this law, but what about the other states? and what about? you know, this podcast reaches so many countries in the world, so what then across the globe, would you suggest, is like a decent start time, given all the research that you've put into writing this sleep deprived teen book.

Lisa Lewis:

Yeah, no, that's a great question, somewhat complex answers. So the first thing I would say is, yeah, i'm based in California in the United States, where we do now have, california being the first and the only state, as of right now, that has a law setting minimum allowed start times for middle and high schools. So the official recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that middle and high schools should start no earlier than 830 because of the impact on adolescent sleep and therefore the impact that has on such a wide range of behaviors. As you will know, that's middle and high school, that's not elementary, and that has to do with what we were just talking about. The elementary schoolers don't have this circadian rhythm shift and so, by and large, they aren't as at risk for some of this extreme mismatch between their body clock and the school start time.

Lisa Lewis:

There's a group that I've been very involved with called Start School Later. They are volunteer led. There are chapters all over the country. There actually are some chapters outside of the US as well, and their general stance on this is that 8 am really is a good floor, that, as far as elementary school, that anyone starting earlier than 8 that is when you have to start. Looking at you know at what point is it just too early. The other thing I wanted to mention, though, is that school start times and sleep are obviously an issue beyond just the United States. So, in broad terms, many European countries, the schools already start later than they do in the US. In many Asian countries, however, they start earlier, and issues of sleep deprivation can be even more of an issue, so this really is something that has much broader implications.

Vai:

Okay, given what you said, Lisa, what about the role of sleep in our health, especially teen health, and, of course, the ramifications of that on whatever you know, academics, whatever their life in general, the quality of life and, most importantly, mental health? So how is all this playing into everything? the overall role of sleep in anyone's life, i think even as children, as teens, tweens, prior to teenage, and then after that as adults, we all need a sleep, right? We?

Lisa Lewis:

do? We do, and in fact, overall we spend about one third of our lives asleep, and that's because sleep is essential. You cannot function without enough sleep. You literally cannot stay alive. You know, at some point you can function longer without food than you can without your body just falling asleep because you need sleep. It's a very complex process. I should know it And I am a journalist, not a medical professional, but I've had so many conversations with so many of the researchers who delve into this So well.

Lisa Lewis:

In broad terms, the biggest takeaway is nobody does anything any better as a result of being sleep deprived. So there is not one benefit, and when we don't get enough sleep, it affects literally every aspect of our lives. So for teens, for instance, there's so much in terms of brain development that's going on, which I mentioned, and a lot of that does take place when they're sleeping. When we sleep is also the primary time that growth hormone is released, which is responsible for growth, as you would expect, but it's also essential for healing from injury and from illness, so it has implications for immunity as well. Getting enough sleep is also what helps keep the two hormones that regulate our feelings of hunger in proper balance leptin and ghrelin. So when we don't get enough sleep we are more likely to crave higher fat and higher sugar foods. So chronic sleep deprivation absolutely does play into things like obesity.

Lisa Lewis:

Sleep is important for cardiac health. It's important from a public safety perspective. When you look at sleep deprived drivers on the road and the number of drowsy drive crashes, oh my gosh, yeah. And then and that's not even getting to the other big, big one you mentioned, which is mental health, which is huge Sleep absolutely is intertwined with mental health. When you are sleep deprived it exacerbates depression, anxiety, suicidality. It intensifies our emotions. We're not. When we haven't gotten enough sleep, we feel things more intensely. And then, when you get back to teens versus adults, the difference for us as adults is we've already completed that major phase of brain development that goes on during adolescence. So we have a fully formed prefrontal cortex, which is what's responsible for executive functioning and impulse control and everything associated with that, whereas for our teens that process is still in process, so they don't yet have the same breaks, if you will, emotional breaks, to temper that increased intensive emotion that comes from being sleep.

Vai:

Oh my gosh, I never realized there's so much to it. I just thought it was all habitual and that some of us were inherently early birds and some of us were, like you know, late night owls And well, and just to interrupt that that is still true.

Lisa Lewis:

There is still a wide range of human variability, so it is indeed true that there are some people who are naturally going to gravitate to one end or the other. That being said, though, you know, for the vast majority of us, that range which, again, it's a two hour range, for adults it's seven to nine hours of sleep, for teens it's eight to 10. So, recognizing that the bulk of us really do fall within that range And, yes, there can be outlayers on either end but to recognize that, trying to convince yourself that you can get by unless sleep doesn't make it so, So true, and there are, scientifically speaking, there are different stages of sleep, right, like REM sleep and whatnot.

Vai:

So if one doesn't go to bed reasonably on time in terms of the duration of sleep that one can get the seven to nine or the eight to 10 that you're talking about then I guess several things accrue from it in terms of the negative impact, right, if one doesn't get the amount of sleep that's necessary and the different stages of sleep, So that way you know, you're much more relaxed in your when you're in like deep sleep mode, right, say like a third or fourth hour of sleep when you're sleeping at night. So I guess, scientifically, the amount of rest and the nature of rest that one gets becomes too significant of a deal here. So I guess people don't even realize the impact that sleep has in our lives, don't you agree?

Lisa Lewis:

Yes, absolutely, and it's actually kind of well funny I guess isn't the right word but up until a couple hundred years ago it was just sort of thought of that, like you were sort of unconscious when you were asleep And now we know how much is taking place while we're sleeping.

Lisa Lewis:

So, as you mentioned, there are stages of sleep that we cycle through throughout the entire night And one thing related to that that I think is important to mention again, back to teens. So the stages there are three stages of non REM sleep And then there's REM sleep, the rapid eye movement phase. Our REM sleep actually more of it takes place during the second half of the night, just the way our cycles play out over the course of the night. So what that means is for our teens, or for anyone really who's being forced to wake too early you are quite literally cutting into the amount of REM sleep you get. They're all essential stages, but REM is when. It's when we dream, but it's also when our brains are assessing and integrating information and forging new insights. So that's the stage that is specifically most often being cut into when our teens have to wake too early.

Vai:

Oh, that's not good at all. I'm just very curious, lisa. Are schools taught times the sole reason why teens are sleep deprived? What about the academic pressure and the load that the kids seem to have to undertake? these days? There are a plethora of AP classes that they all are taking, right So? and I know of kids that have done like 14 or 16 APs in the term of their high school and, gosh, i'm like Hey, did you even get enough sleep during our high school? So how do we just address all of this and make sure that teen mental health and teen well-being is preserved?

Lisa Lewis:

That is such a big piece of it. I'm so glad you mentioned that. To answer your question, having healthy start times it's a necessary but not sufficient condition for our teens to get enough sleep, because when schools start too early, as I mentioned, it makes it virtually impossible for them to get the eight to 10 hours they need. I mean, if you just do the math, if they've got to wake up at 530 in the morning for them to have gotten eight to 10 hours, they'd have to go to bed at a ridiculously early hour. So that's what happens on the morning front in terms of what is affecting what time they wake up. It is most directly affected by school start times. There's one other piece that can play in and that's before school stuff like sports practices etc. Which gets to your point all of the activities they're doing in addition to their workloads, and this whole idea of really taking a hard look at whether they're over scheduled, because that too is what often contributes to them going to bed very, very late 1am or later And you do that And again, that is absolutely going to affect your ability to get a good night's sleep.

Lisa Lewis:

I can recall even when my son was in high school their high school day was six periods And I remember him telling me one time about a kid he knew who was taking eight AP classes. So every single class period plus two more on their own, and, yes, i think that that can be excessive. It is difficult because the reason why kids are doing that, and why parents often are in support of it, is because of this pressure to get into a good school and to be successful. But you reach the point of diminishing returns. You need to look at how is that, as you said, how is that impacting your sleep And therefore, how is that impacting your mental health? And you really do need to take all of that into account when you look at all the stuff on your teen's plate. Taking one more AP class is not going to make or break their future, but it could actually be the thing that pushes them over the edge.

Vai:

Exactly, and in fact there are far-reaching consequences of sleep deprivation that we all think getting them into a good school and getting them successful is the key goal here, but then down the road, the quality of life, like you, even touched upon immunity and so much more that could get impacted because of sleep deprivation. Right, and there's organs detoxifying at certain times of the night and into the early morning and stuff like that. So we are on a schedule, circadian, rhythm-wise, and to disturb that is like playing with mother nature, i guess. From the standpoint of helping teens thrive, how do you think sleep impacts that? Sometimes they tend to get angry, their emotions play out. Is that a manifestation of lack of sleep?

Lisa Lewis:

Absolutely. It can be related to that, because sleep is important for emotional regulation. So what that means is, when we haven't gotten enough sleep, our emotions run hotter and we feel things more intensely. So that's not just our teens, that's us too, i mean. I know for myself if I haven't gotten enough sleep, i'm more crabby, i'm not as much fun to be around. Oh yeah, so that's just sort of true across the board for us as humans.

Vai:

I can feel myself in that situation.

Lisa Lewis:

So yeah, when you haven't gotten enough sleep you're just more moody, you're harder to get along with, but you feel things more intensely. That can include things like anger. The difference, though, for our teens versus us as adults is having that intensity of emotion can be tempered in the adult brain by the role of the prefrontal cortex, which is seat of executive functioning and impulse control and helps us kind of control all of that, whereas in our teens their brains are still in the midst of this massive phase of brain development, so they don't yet have those same sort of cognitive tools to draw on. They're not as strong or as able to temper the emotions in a teen who hasn't gotten enough sleep as in an adult who hasn't gotten enough sleep.

Vai:

Okay. In other words, rest improves positivity and their ability to just respond with more vibrancy to any situation. It's all a reflection of the quality of sleep that they get.

Lisa Lewis:

correct Well being well rested absolutely improves your emotional resiliency. It can improve your outlook, but it also helps temper the intensity of some of those negative emotions.

Vai:

Yeah, thanks for clarifying on that. And it's just, we all tend to label kids as hey, you know what that's attention deficit, all it's this or that, or you know, without even realizing the underlying cause of it all And, very basically, that could be the lack of sleep, right? So we don't know. Other factors may be contributing to someone acting a certain way, but then I think we all need to realize that as a society, we need to just focus on the quality of sleep that we get Back in a moment with our guest on Fresh Leaf Forever. Whatever is happening to tweens and teens, given that they are sleep deprived, is that crime? is that substance use? or is that they're eating pattern? And you mentioned teen drivers. That's a great point. So what are the actually the crucial aspects that we need to focus here?

Lisa Lewis:

I think all of those are important to be aware that sleep impacts and sleep does impact crime because, again, it lowers self control, it increases susceptibility to peer influence. I would focus, though there's two I'd love to highlight. One is driving, but the second is getting back to mental health and specifically, suicidality, which I think you know. You can have a kid who, outwardly, is successful, is getting good grades, but you know the mental health accumulative impact of sleep deprivation is so, so crucial to understand. You know, again, as I mentioned, in teens still developing brains, the threshold for making a decision or acting on it is lower, and so, when it comes to suicidality or actual suicide attempts, that's actually pretty relevant. The other piece is that there's a dose response relationship when it comes to sleep and suicide risk. In fact, there was a meta analysis of studies I referred to in the book it came out in 2018, and they looked at all these different studies And what they found was that, for every hour increase in sleep, the risk of planning suicide went down by 11%.

Lisa Lewis:

Right, that's just a huge number, absolutely, and so really to be aware of this that this is not something to be taken lightly, particularly when we consider the immense mental health challenges of the last few years. The fact that our teens have been suffering and getting enough sleep is one way to help them, sort of provide a buffer against that. When you get enough sleep, it provides more resilience, just as something so essential for our teens. The other piece you mentioned was driving, and that, too, is key because that is a public health issue for our teens and for anyone else who's on the roads when they're behind the wheel and sleep deprived.

Lisa Lewis:

It's not safe for any driver to be behind the wheel when they haven't gotten enough sleep, and that's because when you are sleep deprived, it makes you slower to respond to circumstances that are going on. It affects your judgment. You can also literally fall asleep. You can have what's called a microsleep, which is where you fall sleep for maybe a fraction of a second, but let's say you're behind the wheel, your car is still moving forward. That's incredibly dangerous.

Vai:

Oh no, that's the last thing one would want, right Well?

Lisa Lewis:

and then think about all of that on top of the fact that the driver may only be 16 or 17, and so they're still new drivers and they don't yet have the same judgment that comes with experience. So it really is a concern when you talk about drowsy driving. The combination of being a new, inexperienced driver and somebody who's sleep deprived is just a double whammy.

Vai:

I mean totally agree with you. That's just such a great point that you brought up there. What about the focus on learning? and how does lack of sleep impact both students and educators? I like because, for the teachers, the attention span of the students that they get in the classroom and then that reflecting on the grades, all that is like a huge factor, right From their performance and their ability to deliver what they want to. So how do we narrow this education equity gap?

Lisa Lewis:

You are right that when you have kids who are sleepy in class, it absolutely is impacting them. It's impacting the teachers too. There were several teachers I spoke with who were very familiar with having kids literally falling asleep in class, not only, obviously, as a kid who is fast asleep, not learning, but it kind of puts more pressure on the teachers to keep them awake, which arguably they're not trying to do a lecture that's going to put their kids to sleep. But when a kid shows up who's sleep deprived, they shouldn't have to be like doing things, like yelling and bouncing and clapping and doing things to keep the kids awake. So the kids who are falling asleep on their desk clearly are not learning, but even the ones who are there and their eyes are open, they haven't literally fallen asleep but nothing's penetrating. Well, clearly that's impacting their ability to learn as well.

Lisa Lewis:

So there are actually three key ways that being sleep deprived impacts learning And this is something that's been studied quite a lot.

Lisa Lewis:

But specifically, the researcher Mary Karsgaden has been very, very influential in this whole area of adolescent sleep research And she describes it really as the three ways are acquiring new information, retaining that information and then retrieving that information. So what that means is acquiring. well, that's when they're learning, that's when they're sitting in class and learning the information, or it's when they're reading their textbook at home and trying to learn something new. The retention piece has to do with everything that goes on when they're asleep, because that is when our brain processes and assesses and stores all of the information that we gather throughout the course of the day. So if you're not getting enough sleep, it impacts that, and then, finally, if you're sleep deprived, you're trying to retrieve that information So to remember what you learned in order to take a test, or to be able to remember what you learned in class because you need to apply it in order to be able to do your homework. So all of that is affected by not getting enough sleep.

Vai:

That makes me even wonder the method that kids adopt in terms of their learning style. Some of them tend to think, oh, last minute, I can just sit and cram through this material and go to an exam. So again, it's like study habits, consistent learning and sleep. That is when you even process all this information and you're able to retrieve and then present it at the time of your exam. Right, It just makes so much sense when you put it across here. What about socioeconomic status, gender inequality, whatever that's going on in our society, how sleep quality, duration, how it all differs when it comes to putting our society together, how we look at it overall and whatever is?

Vai:

the reality, in fact.

Lisa Lewis:

Yeah, And I have a whole chapter on that called not all teens sleep the same, because that's exactly what you were just getting at. There are so many other factors that can play in And again these are all huge topics. So I sort of give an overview in the book and we're going to give an even more distilled version of it here. Just very quickly and very broadly.

Lisa Lewis:

The first, looking at biological sex, so biological female versus male. And I say that because, unfortunately, females do tend to sleep worse than males And this begins to become apparent at puberty. Up until that point they really don't see much in the way of sleep differences. But starting at puberty, females are at higher risk of insomnia and also take longer to fall asleep. But the real thing that I wanted to highlight today is the impact of the monthly menstrual cycle. Hormones are very, very powerful and they do affect sleep. When you think about in the US, about half of all girls have gotten their periods by age 12. So just to give a sense of the scope of this and the fact that for so many girls and women who are of reproductive age, they can get PMS, they can get cramps.

Lisa Lewis:

All of that affects your ability to get a good night's sleep. That's a really big thing to keep in mind. There are also aspects related to sexual and gender minority teens, so LGBTQ plus. Now, a lot of this unfortunately happens to be rooted in discrimination. But if you are the target of discrimination or your group is the target of discrimination, whether or not you personally have experienced it, that is also going to affect your sleep. Same thing for teens of color. They have found teens and adults of color disproportionately sleep worse than their counterparts. And again, a lot of this is discrimination. And when I say discrimination, it can also be everything from microaggressions on up.

Lisa Lewis:

But if you have been the target of that, let's say that affects your sleep that night And then the next day you wake up less well equipped to deal with anything like that that you may encounter, because being well rested is what provides you with that emotional resiliency. And then you also mentioned poverty and neighborhood environment, which again can impact your ability because of things like noise. If it's noisy in your living space or outside your building, if it's crowded, if you haven't had enough to eat, the effect your ability to get a good night's sleep. You can have more than one of these at play in your life If you are a female and you live somewhere where it's crowded or whatever I mean. These are all factors that can overlay one on top of the other, and all of them are, above and beyond everything else we've been talking about, already affecting sleep.

Vai:

So beautifully brought out there, Lisa. What about sports performance? So many of our teens these days are playing sports. They just want to go on to play varsity sports and then NCAA division 1, 2, 3, whatever it may be, collegiate athletes, right, So? and I have one of my own in college, So I know what it entails to be an athlete. What about sports performance when it comes to what we are talking about here in terms of sleep deprivation or the importance of sleep for an athlete to be able to perform well in?

Vai:

his or her sport and also in whatever else they are doing in life. Right The academic side of it.

Lisa Lewis:

Absolutely, for teens who are playing sports. There's a couple of different things that I want to mention. The first is absolutely, sleep is a competitive advantage. So, as an athlete, you think about your nutrition. You know you think about all these other aspects.

Lisa Lewis:

Sleep is also one of those areas to be concentrating on and it really has become much more widely known as an essential aspect to consider over the last decade or so. And that's because when you're sleep deprived, it affects your coordination, it affects your response time, it affects your learning ability, so to remember patterns or whatever it is you're being taught by your coach. Also, if you're sleep deprived, it increases your risk for injury. So there's that piece of it. And then you need enough sleep, because sleep is essential during the recovery process. So if you've been injured, but also just after a hard workout, it's essential for being able to recover properly. So there's all that at play.

Lisa Lewis:

Then you know there are other aspects to think about too. Some sports have before school practices, so then you're talking about most often cutting into your sleep. So that can be a factor, and that may be something for parents of teens in particular to be evaluating when they're looking at their kids overall schedule, Because having to get up at 5 am to get in the pool every day, that actually can be pretty harmful when you think about it from a sleep deprivation standpoint. And then, of course, this whole other aspect we were talking about being overloaded and the drive to succeed. You know, being an athlete is wonderful and fulfilling And, yes, it can be something that, you know, kids continue with in college, but also to bear in mind that that is probably not going to be their ultimate career path. So, when they are sacrificing so much to do that, to be aware of all these other aspects too, Oh, makes total sense, And that's a note to me as well as a parent.

Vai:

But hey, there's one thing, the passion side of it, And then there's one thing, the reality side of it. Right, I guess it's a balancing act, And how will we all do it determines the quality of life that we ultimately tend to get. What about the role of us like parents, educators, coaches, overall role of friends and the support system in society in ensuring that teens get better sleep and how can we help them thrive? What are the factors? And, in fact, we all live in an age of technology, So I know you have a whole chapter dedicated to it in your book. So what's the impact of technology on sleep and how better can we help teens thrive?

Lisa Lewis:

Lisa, yeah, i'm not even sure where to begin because all of those are huge, important aspects, but let's so, let's just focus on tech right now, because that is such a huge one, it's omnipresent, and that is something where parents can absolutely have a role. It's a little tricky because it's here to stay. It isn't as if it's tech versus no tech. I mean it's definitely, it's omnipresent. It's how our kids do their homework. You know how they turn in assignments, and so that is something teachers actually can have a role in, because if an assignment isn't due until 11.59 pm, obviously that's kind of encouraging kids to stay up late and turn it in late. So that's one thing perhaps that the schools can look at. But as parents, we need to be mindful of ideally not having them wait till the last minute to do assignments, because that's one one reason why they're they're online. But then also looking at the other ways and reasons that our kids are online, and that's where things like social media come into play, and again, that's not all bad. I mean, social media is an essential part of our kids' relationships. It's how they stay in contact. Same way, i used to talk on the telephone for hours when I was in high school. So now you know that's part of what being online is. It's staying connected with their friends, and to recognize that there is a very valid place for that. So the challenge, though, is when it's too much, and when it's too much can mean a number of things, and again, this is sort of just a quick overview, but it can be too much based on their mental state, because obviously there's, you know, the whole fear of missing out, and there's the kind of feedback that can be negative they may be getting from being online. There's also just the sheer amount of time they're online and how that can affect sleep. So that's where parents can also play a role. So, when you think about what are some of the best practices that we can implement in our homes, so this is where there are actually official guidelines. So the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no tech use one hour before bedtime, and they also recommend no tech devices left in the bedroom overnight. So those would be the best practices.

Lisa Lewis:

Now, that being said, i recognize that's sometimes easier to say than it is to do. Even so, it's good, i think, to be aware of those and to work toward those. When it comes to the no tech use one hour before bedtime. That's also because when you're online, it's revving you up. Usually what you're doing is stimulating and engaging And it's not helping you get ready to go to sleep.

Lisa Lewis:

So that's where, ideally, you want to turn off your devices. You want to have something else that you're doing, some set of activities that you do. That's sort of a wind down routine And that's for us as adults, that's for our teams to do for themselves. It's sort of like what we did for our kids when they were young, but encouraging them to come up with some kind of way to help wind down and prepare for bed every single night. Just because you can't turn off your brain like the way you flick a switch doesn't work that way. You have to have some transition time between just that being productive mode of doing your homework or, if you're an adult, being on email and doing all that stuff. You can't just turn it off and expect that you're abruptly going to be able to fall asleep. You need to have an ending point for that and have something to help you make that transition.

Vai:

Oh well, yeah, that fear of missing out that you pointed out. When it comes to social media use, i think that's across the board. Even elementary school kids nowadays are starting to have phones, and so the tweens and teens, no wonder. And even adults. We all feel like, oh okay, i need to be part of the conversation. So we all have that in some sense or the other. But then it's dependent on what limits we set ourselves.

Vai:

I think every app there does allow for pointers on letting us know that, hey, you have reached the limit that you have set for yourself for the day. So that is doable, and I guess that's where the communication within the family has to happen as well, in terms of, hey, you know what? this was how my day was, this was how your day was. So we are not forced to just stay on social media for the sake of even company, right, and now to focus more on helping teens thrive. How else can we help teens thrive other than, okay, the limits on how we use technology or how best can we use technology, because it just has, at this point, become a necessary evil, right? So it really has. Yeah, the school start times and the strategies for success We also talked about that, the workload, etc. Is there anything else that you would like to share in terms of where we are today and what to focus on going forward, lisa? that way we can help teens thrive.

Lisa Lewis:

You're a parent I am too and we know just it's hard. you know it's challenging. They are going through so much And as a parent, you know there's a lot to take into account. So I think there are several takeaways from what we've talked about. The first, when it comes to helping our teens get enough sleep, is just kind of recognizing how essential that is for them that they should be getting eight to 10 hours, how important that is for their emotional resiliency, their mental health, their school performance across the board. recognizing that start times, what time the school day starts, really does have a major piece to play in that equation, and ideally every state eventually will enact a law like California is such a straightforward way to look at what are the things that they're impacting their sleep. But then for us as parents really to focus on what other things we can help influence And that is absolutely the over scheduling piece that we talked about, because that really really can cut into sleep when kids have too many hours allocated not just to being in school but to homework and all these other extracurriculars they're doing, and you do need to still carve out time for things like eating, conversations with family and friends.

Lisa Lewis:

So just to look at are they perhaps over scheduled and how to address that. The tech guidelines And then I think probably the overall one which covers all this, is just how to make sleep a priority overall at the family level. So for our kids to see that we also are making sleep a priority, we are doing things like not being online in bed at night. we are trying to get enough sleep. I think that is probably the overarching message is just to make sleep a family priority.

Vai:

Oh beautiful, that's very well said. What about the US versus the scenario in rest of the globe, right Overall, do you think as a society, we need to make a shift and there needs to be advocacy efforts in terms of, say, school start times and several other things? you know from an athletic standpoint how coaches are dealing with the kids in terms of practice hours and whatnot. do you think we are very different as a society in terms of how the rest of the world handles it?

Lisa Lewis:

You know, i have to say I'm not as familiar with the practices in other parts of the world, with the exception of start times, where I do know, as I mentioned, that in general many European countries the schools do tend to start a bit later than in the US, whereas in many countries in Asia they're actually starting earlier and some of this pressure to succeed can be even more pronounced. The amount of sleep that we need doesn't vary across borders. Teens across the globe are going to function better if they're getting eight to 10 hours of sleep. The specific factors making it difficult for them to do that may vary based on where they live, but it doesn't change the reality that they still need to get enough sleep, Hey, no matter what at the end of the day, and no matter culturally how different we are as human beings across the globe, we all do the same things, and we all need to wake up in the morning, we all need to go to bed at night and then we all need to do our thing.

Vai:

My goal is to focus on a sustainable future and to ensure that we preserve our planet. I feel that mental health and several other factors and how we nurture our younger generation plays a major role in how we are going to help them build a better planet for themselves. How can we emphasize this as why and how sleep is important for a sustainable future and well-being? Oh my goodness.

Lisa Lewis:

Well, i think, just in the broadest sense, that we are raising the next generation of leaders. Being well rested is part of them being healthy and enabling them to become productive members of society. We know, too, that being well rested helps with creativity. It helps with our behaviors across the board. So I think being well rested is a benefit for all of us.

Vai:

Oh, and then think with clarity to be able to do everything. So whatever they need to contribute or however they can contribute to our society and to our planet. So thank you so much for this fascinating conversation. I'm sure many, many parents, many tweens, teens, would benefit from this immensely, and I encourage everyone to read this fascinating book Sleep Deprived Teen by Lisa Lewis.

Lisa Lewis:

Oh, thank you. Thank you. Yeah, the book is called The Sleep Deprived Teen. I do actually use my middle initial just because it's a relatively common name, so it's Lisa L Lewis And then the book is The Sleep Deprived Teen. And I just wanted to thank you for having me on your podcast to talk about this and just hearing you lay out your reasons for doing the podcast. I mean, i'm just such a fan of all of that And I appreciate everything that you do, so thank you so much for having me.

Vai:

Oh, thank you. Thank you, and would you like to add anything else here? I would make sure to include in my show notes links to your website and to the book and everything that waits handy for the listeners, but would you like to add your social media handle or anything else?

Lisa Lewis:

Oh, thank you. Yeah, the website is www. Lisal Lewiscom And on social media Twitter and Instagram you can find me at Lewis Lisa.

Vai:

L, And that's L-E-W-I-S Yes.

Lisa Lewis:

L-E-W-I-S-L-I-S-A-L Lewis, lisa L.

Vai:

Perfect, perfect. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us here on the podcast And we look forward to catching up with you again in the future. Wonderful, thank you again for having me. Okay, and listeners, as always, follow the podcast. Rate the podcast, leave a review from your podcast app of choice And until next time with yet another interesting guest and yet another interesting topic. It's me Vai saying so long.

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