From the Laurel Center for Research on Girls
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Sleep and Mindfulness
By now, most everyone is aware of the disheartening statistics surrounding teen sleep. While it’s recommended that teens sleep 9-10 hours per night, only 20% reach that optimal amount, and nearly half of teenagers average less than 8 hours per night during the week. There are many culprits that work to deprive adolescents of their much-needed sleep, including homework and extra-curricular activities, early school start times, technology use and stress. While some of these factors are outside teens’ control, promising new research indicates that managing stress may play an important role in improving sleep.
Stress and Sleep
More than a third of teenagers report that high levels of stress interfere with their ability to fall asleep at night. The stress-sleep relationship is cyclical, with insufficient sleep also increasing stress, and the relationship may be more pronounced for teenage girls. Some research suggests that the emotion-focused coping often utilized by teenage girls may increase sleep disturbance during times of stress. Although many factors affecting sleep are outside of teens’ control, stress management is one place they might make positive changes to improve sleep quality.
Mindfulness, a specific way of paying attention to one’s surroundings that can be honed through meditation and acceptance practices, is gaining support as an effective stress-reduction technique. Research with teens indicates that mindfulness may have positive effects on sleep duration and sleep quality. Mindfulness techniques may also indirectly improve sleep via decreased anxiety and depressive symptoms in teens. Although mindfulness has been extensively studied in adults, research in children and teens is just beginning. In its early stages, this technique shows similar promise as other stress reduction techniques in improving children and teens’ overall well-being.
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