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Daily Dose

Listening to Teens is Important!

1.30 to read

I recently saw I teenage patient of mine who had been in about a year ago complaining of irregular periods and problems with menstrual cramps as well. Interestingly, due to persistent acne, she had been on Accutane about a year before but she was now interested in starting birth control pills (OCP).  She had “heard” from her friends (best source of info for a teen), that OCP would not only regulate her periods, but they might also help her skin (all correct information, I might add).

So, after reviewing the risks and benefits of “the pill” and discussing this with both she and her mother, we all agreed she would try OCP.

She took the pill over the last year with great success. Her periods became more regular, they were shorter and she had little problem with cramps.  All was good, until she started complaining of weight gain.  When I recently saw her she had gained about 15 lbs and was quite upset about the weight gain (but still liked her regular periods).

The dilemma is that while you may notice a 2-5 lbs weight gain on the pill, it is not “typical” for there to be a 15-20 lbs weight gain due to OCP alone. When I reviewed her history over the last 9 months, it was significant in that she had stopped playing year round competitive volleyball. Despite a change in her athletic schedule, she had not continued any routine exercise.

In discussing her eating habits and diet, it was noted that she had started to drive and she said, “I am not always home for meals, so I eat may pick up something after school or at dinner”.  She had been snacking at home this summer as well.

Despite my conversation about her changes in lifestyle with decreased exercise and more snacking, she did not think that the change in her exercise or diet had “anything to do with her weight gain!”.  A very common teenage reaction for sure.

So, it was decided that I would try another brand of OCP, and she was encouraged to try to resume a regular exercise program. With school back in session her mother and I also thought that her eating habits would improve as they were getting back to regular family meals.

But, she was most happy that I had listened to her, and so had her mother. Often, just listening to a teenager is the most important thing you do.

Your Teen

10 Reasons Teens Act The Way They Do


Anyone in the midst of raising a teen knows that the adolescent years can be some of the most difficult to get through and understand.

As a parent or guardian of a teenager that wants to be more independent, but also needs supervision and guidance, the times can be challenging indeed.

If that’s the position you find yourself in, you may be asking – what’s going on in that youngster’s brain? Actually, there’s a lot happening!

There are several scientific reasons an adolescent brain can be similar to a toddler’s: After infancy, the brain's most dramatic growth spurt occurs in adolescence. Here’s 10 things you may not know about your teen’s brain.

10. Critical period of development. Adolescence is generally considered to be the years between 11 and 19. It’s easy to see the outward changes that occur in boys and girls during this time, but inside, their brains are working on overdrive.

"The brain continues to change throughout life, but there are huge leaps in development during adolescence," said Sara Johnson, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Parents should understand that no matter how tall their son has sprouted or how grown-up their daughter dresses, "they are still in a developmental period that will affect the rest of their life," Johnson told LiveScience

9. The growing brain. Scientists used to believe the greatest leap in neuronal connections occurred in infancy, but brain imaging studies show that a second burst of neuronal sprouting happens right before puberty, peaking at about age 11 for girls and 12 for boys.

The adolescent's experiences shape this new grey matter, mostly following a "use it or lose it" strategy, Johnson said. The structural reorganization is thought to continue until the age of 25, and smaller changes continue throughout life.

8. New Thinking Skills. This increase in brain matter allows the teenager to become more interconnected and gain processing power, Johnson notes.

If given time and access to information, adolescents start to have the computational and decision-making skills of an adult. However, their decisions may be more emotional than objective because their brains rely more on the limbic system (the emotional seat of the brain) than the more rational prefrontal cortex.

"This duality of adolescent competence can be very confusing for parents," Johnson said, meaning that sometimes teens do things, like punching a wall or driving too fast, when, if asked, they clearly know better.

Sound familiar?

7.  Teen tantrums. While teens are acquiring amazing new skills during this time, they aren’t that good at using them yet, especially when it comes to social behavior and abstract thought.

That’s when parents can become the proverbial guinea pig. Many kids this age view conflict as a type of self-expression and may have trouble focusing on an abstract idea or understanding another's point of view.

Particularly in today’s heavy media influenced world, teens are dealing with a huge amount of social, emotional and cognitive flux says Sheryl Feinstein, author of Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.)

That’s when they need a more stable adult brain (parents) to help them stay calm and find the better path.

6. Intense emotions. Remember the limbic system mentioned earlier (the more emotional part of the brain)? It’s accelerated development, along with hormonal changes, may give rise to newly intense experiences of rage, fear, aggression (including towards oneself), excitement and sexual attraction.

Over the course of adolescence, the limbic system comes under greater control of the prefrontal cortex, the area just behind the forehead, which is associated with planning, impulse control and higher order thought.

As teens grow older, additional areas in the brain start to help it process emotions and gain equilibrium in decision-making and interpreting others. But until that time, teens can often misread parents and teachers Feinstein said.

5. Peer pressure. As teens become better at abstract thinking, their social anxiety begins to increase.  Ever wonder why your teen seems obsessed with what others are thinking and doing?

Abstract reasoning makes it possible to consider yourself from the eyes of another. Teens may use this new skill to ruminate about what others are thinking of them. In particular, peer approval has been shown to be highly rewarding to the teen brain, Johnson said, which may be why teens are more likely to take risks when other teens are around.

Friends also provide teens with opportunities to learn skills such as negotiating, compromise and group planning. "They are practicing adult social skills in a safe setting and they are really not good at it at first," Feinstein said. So even if all they do is sit around with their friends, teens are hard at work acquiring important life skills.

4. Measuring risk.  "The brakes come online somewhat later than the accelerator of the brain," said Johnson, referring to the development of the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system respectively.

At the same time, "teens need higher doses of risk to feel the same amount of rush adults do," Johnson said. Not a very comforting thought for parents.

This is a time when teens are vulnerable to engaging in risky behaviors, such as trying drugs, sex, getting into fights or jumping into unsafe water.

So what can a parent do during this risky time? "Continue to parent your child." Johnson said. Like all children, "teens have specific developmental vulnerabilities and they need parents to limit their behavior," she said.

It’s when being a parent to your child instead of trying to be their “friend” is more difficult but much more important for their physical and emotional safety.

3. Yes, parents are still important. According to Feinstein, a survey of teenagers revealed that 84 percent think highly of their mothers and 89 percent think highly of their fathers. And more than three-quarters of teenagers enjoy spending time with their parents; 79 percent enjoy hanging out with Mom and 76 percent like chilling with Dad. That’s not 100%, but it’s probably more than you thought.

One of the tasks of adolescence is separating from the family and establishing some autonomy, Feinstein said, but that does not mean a teen no longer needs parents – even if they say otherwise.

"They still need some structure and are looking to their parents to provide that structure," she said. "The parent that decides to treat a 16 or 17 year old as an adult is behaving unfairly and setting them up for failure." 

Listening to your teen and being a good role model, especially when dealing with stress and the other difficulties life can present, can help your teen figure out their own coping strategies.

2. Sleep. Ah, yes, sleep. Although teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night, their bodies are telling them a different story. Part of the problem is a shift in circadian rhythms during adolescence: It makes sense to teen bodies to get up later and stay up later, Johnson said.

But due to early bussing and class schedules, many teens rack up sleep debt and "become increasingly cognitively impaired across the week," Johnson said. Sleep-deprivation only exacerbates moodiness and cloudy decision-making. And sleep is thought to aid the critical reorganization of the teen brain.

"There is a disconnect between teen’s bodies and our schedules," Johnson said.

Shutting down the electronics an hour before bedtime has been shown to help teens as well as adults get to sleep quicker and sleep better. No computer, TV, video games or cell phones.

1.The “I am the Center of the Universe” syndrome. You may have noticed that your teen’s hormones are causing quite a bit of havoc. Experts say that’s to be expected. But you may still wonder- what the heck is going on with my kid?

The hormone changes at puberty have huge affects on the brain, one of which is to spur the production of more receptors for oxytocin, according to a 2008 issue of the journal Developmental Review.

The increased sensitivity caused by oxytocin has a powerful impact on the area of the brain controlling one’s emotions. Teens develop a feeling of self-consciousness and may truly believe that everyone is watching him or her. These feelings peek around age 15.

While this may make a teen seem self-centered (and in their defense, they do have a lot going on), the changes in the teen brain may also spur some of the more idealistic efforts tackled by young people throughout history.

"It is the first time they are seeing themselves in the world," Johnson said, meaning their greater autonomy has opened their eyes to what lies beyond their families and schools. They are asking themselves, she continued, for perhaps the first time: What kind of person do I want to be and what type of place do I want the world to be?

Until their brains develop enough to handle shades of grey, their answers to these questions can be quite one-sided, Feinstein said, but the parents' job is to help them explore the questions, rather than give them answers.

And there you have it. Teen’s brains are exploding with new data, confusing signals and dueling desires. It’s a tough time in one’s development- but rest assured, what you teach them by example and compassion as well as how you gingerly help guide them will last a life-time. Even when you do the best you can, there are no guarantees that they will turn out the way you’re hoping they will – they are after all- individuals with a will and a mind of their own. But now you know a little more about why your teen acts the way they do.

Story Source: Robin Nixon,

Your Teen

Amateur Athletes May Be at Greater Risk For CTE


Former NFL player and sportscaster, Frank Gilford, passed away in August. Not only was he well known for his on and off the field talents, but his name suddenly became associated with a terrible brain disease that is becoming all too common among former athletes, chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. Gilford’s family said although he died from natural causes he also suffered from the debilitating effects of CTE which can affect thinking, memory, behavior and a person’s mood. His family decided to have his brain studied in hopes of shedding some light on the link between football and traumatic brain injury.  

A new study suggests that an increase of risk for CTE can begin much earlier in life for those who play contact sports where concussions and head trauma are common.

Researchers analyzed the brains of 66 men who had donated their organs to the Mayo Clinic Brain Bank and participated in sports such as football, rugby, wrestling, boxing and basketball while in school. Their brains were compared to the brains of 198 people, including 66 women, who never played contact sports.

CTE was found in the brains of a third of the men who played amateur contact sports. But no sign of the disease was detected in the brains of those who never played contact sports, the researchers said.

"The 32 percent of CTE we found in our brain bank is surprisingly high for the frequency of neurodegenerative pathology within the general population," wrote study author Kevin Bieniek, a pre-doctoral student in Mayo Graduate School's Neurobiology of Disease program.

"If one in three individuals who participate in a contact sport goes on to develop CTE pathology, this could present a real challenge down the road," Bieniek said.

Dr. Dennis Dickson, senior study author and neuropathologist at Mayo Clinic, noted that this study is the first to use newly developed government criteria to diagnose CTE in nonprofessional athletes.

"The frequency with which he [Bieniek] found CTE pathology in former [amateur] athletes exposed to contact sports was surprising," Dickson said. "It is pathology that had gone previously unrecognized."

Some individuals may be at an even greater risk of developing CTE if they have a genetic marker. Researchers have found two genetic markers that may affect the possibility of developing CTE.

"These markers need to be further studied in a larger group of CTE cases, but they could be very important in determining whether an individual is at greater risk of developing these brain changes," Bieniek said.

"The purpose of our study is not to discourage children and adults from participating in sports because we believe the mental and physical health benefits are great," he noted.

"It is vital that people use caution when it comes to protecting the head. Through CTE awareness, greater emphasis will be placed on making contact sports safer, with better protective equipment and fewer head-to-head contacts," Bieniek concluded.

The study was published in the December issue of journal Acta Neuropathologica.

Source: Robert Preidt,

Daily Dose

Uber & Teens

1:30 to read

Do you have Uber cars in your area?  I first found out about Uber (and I am only using them as an example) when my son lived in NYC and often used the car service. Later on I heard about college kids using Uber as well.  In that case, many college kids did not have cars and/or they were being “responsible” after being at a party.

But recently, in conversations with my adolescent patients, I have heard that high school kids are using Uber to come home after a party, or other social activities. In otherwords, their parents are not picking them up from the dance, concert, or party but are letting their children (often young girls) call Uber.  Where are their parents and what are they thinking?

I realize that once your child heads off to college you hope and pray that they are making good choices and are being safe. You don’t really plan on picking them up after an event or talk to them that same night about what they have been doing and with whom.  But when we had high school age children, my expectations were that we, the parents, were responsible for taking our teens to the party and to pick them up. Once they were driving the “rules” changed a bit in that they were then often driving themselves to an event and then would drive home and we would be up waiting for them to get home.  They always knew that we would be there when they got home and also that if there were any “issues” we were also available to pick them up. We talked a lot about underage drinking as well as driving and responsibility.  Never did I think they would call a cab or car service, nor was that idea ever broached, they were to call their parents.

So now that these “app” car services are available around the clock, are parents abrogating their responsibilities for parenting teens?  By allowing their teens to call a car service for their ride home, are parents seemingly not interested in where their child has been or who they have been with or what they have been doing before they get home?  You certainly can drop your child at a concert or party and tell them to text Uber to get a ride home, but does this parental non-participation quietly help to condone inappropriate, risky, teen behavior?

Although picking your child up at the end of the evening or checking on them when they pull in the driveway will never ensure that your teen does not get into trouble, I think it does help them think a bit more about having to interact with their parents at curfew time. This “worry” might help lead them to make a better decision about drugs, alcohol or whom they are hanging out with. Putting teens into the “hands” (cars) of strangers as their ride home just seems wrong. Parents be aware. 

Daily Dose

Travel Alert for College Students

1.30 to read

With college students from all over the country traveling over the Thanksgiving weekend,  the CDC has issued a health advisory to doctors to be on “the look out” for meningococcal meningitis and sepsis.  As you know, travel is a great way to spread germs, even unknowingly,  and many college kids left their campuses and headed home for Thanksgiving. In just a few weeks  they will be traveling again for Christmas/winter break.  

While there are different types of bacteria that cause meningitis, there has been an outbreak of serotype B meningococcal disease in students at both Princeton University and at The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).  Unfortunately, the two meningococcal vaccines that adolescents receive do not protect against serotype B disease. The vaccines licensed in the United States protect against meningococcal serotypes A,C,W,Y.  (Make sure your students are protected with this vaccine). 

Because there have been 8 cases of serotype B meningococcal disease at Princeton and 3 more cases at UCSB, the CDC is concerned that there could be more cases identified in different parts of the country,  spread by college students traveling coast to coast.

Meningococcal disease comes on quickly and has symptoms like many other illnesses, including the flu. Meningococcal disease causes headache, fever, body aches, nausea and vomiting and often a rash which is classic for the disease. This disease seems to cluster in adolescents who are constantly in close contact with one another.  But, meningococcal disease makes patients even sicker than the flu and other viral infections, and typically begins much more quickly. These patients get sick and look very sick quickly, a matter of hours at times.  

So parents, if your child develops a fever, headache, stiff neck and a rash make sure you call your doctor. Doctors, we all need to be aware of the outbreak of meningococcal disease and for patients who appear extremely sick consider the diagnosis.

The best way to prevent disease continues to be good hand washing, and cough hygiene.  Make sure your students have been vaccinated for meningococcal disease and the flu as well!

Daily Dose

Miley Cyrus Smoking Salvia

Video of Miley Cyrus smoking salvia has been making the rounds on-air and online. What is salvia and why are tweens/teens smoking this herb? As you know, I always try to stay abreast of new stories and pop culture trends that might affect my patients (as well as my own family). One recent event caught my eye. The video of Miley Cyrus allegedly smoking salvia has been viewed by many. Prior to this I had not heard very much about salvia. As it turns out, I should have.

It seems that this plant (a member of the mint family) is a well-known naturally occurring hallucinogen.  Salvia is actually the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen (LSD is a synthetic hallucinogen) and has become quite a sensation among the adolescent crowd who often post videos of themselves after smoking or ingesting salvia. It is in this manner that adolescents became aware of the effects of salvia and realized that it is easy to obtain either on line or in smoke shops. Over the last several years as salvia has gained more attention, it has been banned from being sold in 20 states in the U.S. with even more states considering legislation.  That does not seem to prevent its sale on line as a Google search listed pages of sites with salvia for sale. The effects of salvia typically occur almost immediately after smoking the herb, and typically last about 5 – 8 minutes. It is common to see speech and coordination problems, along with a feeling of giddiness and disorientation.  Salvia activates opioid receptors in the brain which causes the differing hallucinogenic symptoms.  It has the potential to be both physically and psychologically addictive, especially in the adolescent population who are dealing with multiple issues during their maturation. For a teen who is sad, depressed or anxious, the use of salvia may become a way to mask their problems rather than dealing with their issues. While a teen’s first encounter with salvia may be a ”one time” exposure at a party, the easy availability of this plant on line may make it more appealing for repetitive use.  Salvia may also be chewed or consumed in a liquid, as well as inhaling herb.  The latest “Monitoring the Future Survey” which ask teens about their recent drug use did not show an increase in salvia use among 12th graders, but it did show that 1.7% of eighth graders had admitted to using salvia at least once. The concern is that these numbers may rise and the DEA has labeled salvia a “drug of concern”.  With the YouTube video of Miley Cyrus using salvia, there are now even younger kids aware of the plant and its effects.  Children as young as 10-12 years are reporting salvia usage.  I have asked many of my pre-teen and adolescent patients about salvia, and while most deny usage they all seemed to “know” what salvia was and how they could get it. So, yet another discussion for parents to have with their children. This also brings home the necessity of monitoring not only what your children watch on line but what they buy. Salvia appears to be pretty cheap and is easily purchased with a PayPal account.

Daily Dose

Why Posture is Important

1.45 to read

Whenever I am doing a child’s physical exam I always spend some time looking at their backs. Why? It’s important to look at a child’s spine to assess any irregularities or disease that may be present like scoliosis.  I also check the skin around their neck and back (really everywhere) for moles that need to be noted and watched. This is all part of a child’s yearly physical.

But as children get older I often note that when I ask them to stand up to look at their backs, they are slouching or slumping! I can just hear my own mother’s voice, “Susan, stand up straight, put your shoulders back”.  I am suddenly, noticeably, sitting up straighter even while typing this!

Posture is so important and at times a parent will even ask me to discuss the importance of good posture with their child. It typically isn’t the 3-10 year old set, they really seem to stand up fairly straight, but the tween and teen group is often guilty of poor posture. It is interesting as most patients that age talk about wanting to be taller, but regardless they don’t even stand up straight.

Then there is the “tall” group who for many teenage reasons, feel as if they are “too tall” and try to hide their height by slumping. In either case, slouching and slumping not only looks bad, but it’s not good for the back.

Poor posture can lead to neck and shoulder pain, which is a common complaint of adolescents. Not only do they have poor posture while standing but have you watched them as they hunch over their computers?

Adolescents are often spending in excess of 8 hours a day online and are not paying any attention to how they are sitting. I see many a teen with neck pain that radiates down their back and scapula, often secondary to their posture while “computing” on their many electronic devices. This poor posture leads to lots of muscle spasms as well.

My advice? Have your child start practicing standing up straight. Have them try good old-fashioned time with their back and shoulders up against the wall and see if you they can step away from the wall and maintain that erect posture.What about the ‘ole book on the head trick as well?  A younger child will find balancing a book on their heads to be a fun exercise, but this exercise may not be as much fun for the older set.

Everything just works better with good posture don’t you think?  You can breath better, your tummy muscles get tighter as you stand up straight, and that takes pressure off of your back as well. You will have less neck and shoulder pain and lastly, you just look better! (boy would my mother be proud of me for agreeing with her.)

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Your Teen

FDA to Regulate E-cigarettes, Raise Age for Purchasing


Cigarette smoking among teens and young adults has been on a slight decline in the past few years, but e-cigarette use has been rapidly increasing.

Because there are no regulations and scant information on the products used to fuel e-cigarettes, many leading health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics have been urging the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to bring e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine under its authority.

The U.S. government has responded and taken action. The FDA issued a tough set of rules for the e-cigarette industry that included banning sales to anyone under 18, requiring package warning labels, and making all products—even those currently on the market—subject to government approval.

For many teen and health organizations, the ruling has been long overdue.

Though the product-approval process will be phased in during three years, that will be little solace to the fledgling but fast-growing $3.5 billion industry that has, until Aug. 8 when the rules take effect, largely been unregulated and dominated by small manufacturers and vape shops.

Many of the vape shops, device manufacturers and liquid nicotine producers are not happy with the change.

“This is going to be a grim day in the history of tobacco-harm reduction,” said Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, an industry-funded advocacy group. “It will be a day where thousands of small businesses will be contemplating whether they will continue to stay in business and employ people.”

In June, the FDA proposed requiring warning labels and childproof packaging because of an increase in nicotine exposure and poisoning incidents. The agency could move to regulate advertising or flavors such as cotton candy and watermelon that also might appeal to youth.

“We’re looking at the flavor issue with e-cigarettes,” said FDA Tobacco Center Director Mitch Zeller during a news conference. Later, he said, that while the agency was aware of “anecdotal reports” that e-cigarettes have helped smokers kick their habit; those benefits were outweighed by concerns about youth using the devices.

E-cigarettes are not the only tobacco related products that will come under the control of the FDA. Unregulated tobacco items, including pipe tobacco and water-pipe tobacco, will also fall under the supervision of the FDA.

The FDA has been regulating cigarettes since Congress granted it oversight of traditional smokes with the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

“Today’s announcement is an important step in the fight for a tobacco-free generation—it will help us catch up with changes in the marketplace, put into place rules that protect our kids and give adults information they need to make informed decisions,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a statement.

Most researchers agree e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes because, unlike cigarettes, they don’t combust. Studies have shown that when traditional cigarettes combust they release more than 60 carcinogens. But the long-term effects of using the electronic devices remain largely unknown, and many anti-tobacco groups and public health officials are concerned they could become a gateway to traditional smoking.

Anti-tobacco groups have been frustrated with FDA, saying the agency has taken far too long to finalize its rules.

Concerns escalated when a study published in August by the Journal of the American Medical Association found ninth-graders who used e-cigarettes were 2½ times as likely as peers to have smoked traditional cigarettes a year later.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in April that e-cigarette use tripled among U.S. teenagers in 2014.

The AAP issued its recommendations on tobacco and e-cigarettes in late 2015.

In a press release, the organization said it strongly recommends the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, should be increased to age 21 nationwide.

"Tobacco use continues to be a major health threat to children, adolescents and adults," said Karen M. Wilson, MD, MPH, FAAP, chair of the AAP Section on Tobacco Control and section head of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at Children's Hospital Colorado. "The developing brains of children and teens are particularly vulnerable to nicotine, which is why the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among adolescents is so alarming and dangerous to their long-term health."

Under the new rules, e-cigarette manufacturers would have up to two years to continue to sell their products while they submit an application to the FDA.

Story sources: Tripp Mickle, Tom Burton,


Daily Dose

Teens Not Getting Enough Sleep

1.30 to read

If you're the parent of a teen, this does not surprise you at all:  teens do not get enough sleep!    

An online study released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says, “70 percent of high school students are not getting the recommended hours of sleep on school nights”.  I could have done that study in my office on any given day of the week! 

Having raised 3 teenagers as well as thousands of teens in my practice, I know this to be true, first hand. The problem is this age group is least likely to believe or convince that lack of sleep causes a plethora of physical as well as psychological problems. 

According to the CDC study, which was just published online in Preventive Medicine, insufficient sleep is associated with numerous “risky” behaviors including drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, fighting, lack of physical activity and being sexually active.  The data on sleep was accumulated from the 2007 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey where students were asked, “on an average school night, how many hours of sleep do you get?” Insufficient sleep was defined as less than 8 hours, while sufficient sleep was 8 or more hours per night. On an average school night, almost 70% of responders reported insufficient sleep.  

In my practice I ask every child/adolescent about their sleep habits and routinely find teens are averaging between 5–7 hours of sleep per night. They also come in everyday with a chief complaint of FATIGUE! 

I used to tell my own sons throughout their high school years that they needed to be in bed at 10:30p.m.  They could not understand why I was up “prowling around their rooms” in the dark of night demanding, that they go to bed. “No one else has a bedtime in high school” was the common complaint.  

But I also told them that I made my living out of telling teens (and their parents) that the reason their child “felt badly” was not mono, or a dreaded disease, but lack of sleep.  

Those teens who did not have adequate sleep also drank more soft drinks (did not include diet), used computers for 3 or more hours every day, admitted to current alcohol, cigarette and marijuana use, were sexually active, and also expressed more feelings of being sad or hopeless or even of having suicidal thoughts. 

If we could improve these statistics and reduce so many teenage “health risk behaviors” by just having parents enforce bedtimes, it sure seems like an easy sell. 

Set a time, turn off the electronics and “put your teen to bed”. I know they have homework and tests and papers to write, but they also must be healthy, and rested to make good choices in both school and outside the home. 

Oh, the study also found that watching 3 or more hours of television each day was not related to insufficient sleep. You might leave that part out!  


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