The dangers of insomnia

There is troubling news for parents who suffer from insomnia. Not only are they likely to pass on to their children their difficulties in getting a good nights sleep, but their adolescent children can experience an elevated risk of suicide.

The news was included in a report presented June 12 in Westchester, Ill., at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. The study, authored by Xianchen Liu, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, focused on nearly 800 teenagers (450 boys and 348 girls), with an average age of 14.4. Researchers found that, compared with adolescents of parents without insomnia, participants with parents who experienced insomnia were more than twice as likely to report insomnia, daytime fatigue and other psychological problems.

The adolescent offspring of parents with insomnia were also more likely to experience depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and recorded more suicide attempts during the past year.

Sleep experts recommended that adolescents get nine hours of sleep every night. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine offers the following tips on how to get a good nights sleep:
1. Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
2. Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
3. Get a full nights sleep every night.
4. Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, before bedtime.
5. Avoid staying up all night to cram for an exam, to do homework, etc.

If after-school activities are proving to be too time
consuming, consider cutting back on these activities.
1. Keep computers and televisions out of the bedroom.
2. Do not go to bed hungry, but dont eat a big meal before bedtime, either.
3. Avoid rigorous exercise within six hours of bedtime.
4. Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
5. Get up at the same time every morning.