The Sleep Forum and World Sleep Society have come together to produce TEN podcasts about sleep as we countdown to World Sleep Day on March 13, 2010.




In this podcast, Ruth Marion, Editor of The Sleep Forum and Allan O’Bryan, Executive Director of The Sleep Society speak with guest speaker, Dr. Judith Owens, Director of Sleep Medicine, Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders, Department of Neurology, Children's Hospital Boston.




O’Bryan explains to our listeners that “world sleep society is a non-profit, membership based organization representing sleep researchers and clinicians around the world focusing on awareness and education. Our leadership is volunteers looking to promote sleep worldwide. We use World Sleep Day as opportunity for our membership reach out to the public and highlight the importance of sleep.”




When asked by O'Bryan to discuss the most prevalent sleep disorders in children, Owens replied that sleep disorders in children "encompass a variety of potential problems such as breathing, insomnia, parasomnias, and insufficient sleep."




She commented that sometimes an individual or whole family unit needs to change certain behaviors so that it can positively impact sleep. The most important thing is to make sure that kids get the recommended amount of sleep.




Owens mentioned that the groups like the World Sleep Society and events like World Sleep Day are fantastic because it raises awareness for sleep health and sleep disorders for caregivers and health care providers as well.




When asked why she felt sleep disorders in children has risen, she replies "anxiety levels in children and adolescents have increased for lots of reasons. Anxiety is a driver for insomnia – difficulty falling asleep or falling back to sleep.  The use of electronic devices we know quite clearly not only is stimulating to the brain but there is a biological piece – the blue light coming from the screen that inhibits the production of melatonin. 




Owens talked about treatment and protocols for insomnia in adolescents. When teenagers go into puberty they also have a shift in their natural falling asleep and wake time. Most adolescents it is hard for them to fall asleep before 11 pm at night but their natural wake time also shifts.  One of the issues that comes into play is early school start time.




Environmental factors like social networking, increasing homework, extra curricular activities and being over-scheduled makes sleep fall to the bottom of their priority list. Adolescents today are more sleep deprived than any other group we have seen in history and their consequences could be long term.




Some recommendations by Owens included rearranging priorities so adolescents can get the sleep they need, taking a short strategic nap and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule on school days and non school days.




Owens continued by talking about research that has proved the short term and long term consequences of sleep deprivation in adolescents. "We know there is a decline in executive functions which include decision making, planning, motivation, regulating emotions and problem solving.  Not getting enough sleep negatively impacts these executive functions."




This is one of the reasons why car accidents are the number one cause of death in adolescents. Lack of impulse control leads to risky behaviors such as driving after drinking or while tired.




Sleep deprived adolescents suffer from mood changes and depression which is also why suicide is the third highest cause o...

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