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Parenting Tips: How to Ensure Healthy Brain Development in your Teen - Part 1.

Updated on February 24, 2013

Establishing Healthy Sleep Patterns In Your Teen

Ensuring Healthy Brain Development in Your Teen Part 1.

(Due to the length of this article it has been divided into 3 parts)

How can you aid your teen with healthy brain development?

This time of your teen’s development is really crucial due to the fact that right now, the environmental influences in your child’s life will “hard-wire” their brain for life. What does that mean? Well, it means that the activities and habits your child engages in now will influence how their brain matures and it will influence the way their brain operates once it is fully matured. This makes the way teenagers spend their time incredibly important.

As a parent it is really worth thinking about the amount of time your teen is involved in healthy activities, like: sports, hobbies and outdoor activities, as opposed to the more unhealthy activities like spending hours watching TV, surfing the net and leading a overly sedentary life-style. Remember the activities your child partakes in now will form the type of brain your child takes into adulthood.

Even though there may be days that you feel completely useless in your teen’s life, you actually do play a vital role in your child’s life. The relationship you build with your with your teen, and how you guide and influence them, will be extremely important in helping your child to build a healthy brain.

It is not as tough as it may sound. There are some very definite and easy steps that you can take to help your child along during this stage.

These include:

Ensuring that your child gets enough sleep.

Promoting effective and critical thinking skills.

Encouraging and rewarding positive behavior.

Establishing healthy sleep patterns.

Sleep patterns during the teen years tend to change. This is due to the fact that the brain begins to produce melatonin later in the day, than it did before.

[NOTE: Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal (pih-knee-uhl) gland, which is a pea-sized gland situated just above the centre of the brain. During the day the pineal gland is dormant, but when the sun goes down and darkness occurs, the pineal gland is “turned on” and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is released into the blood. As a result, melatonin levels in the blood rise suddenly and you begin to feel less alert. Sleep becomes more inviting. Melatonin levels in the blood, stay raised for about 12 hours (through the night) before the light of a new day causes them to fall back to low daytime levels. Daytime levels of melatonin are barely detectable].

Because of this your teen could have problems falling asleep early, and may only be ready for sleep after their usual bedtime. This may cause them to lose out on hours of sleep, because no matter what time they went to bed the night before, they will still have to wake up early for school, and sleep is essential for the developing brain of a teen.

Try the following tips to help your teen establish healthy and consistent sleep patterns:

* Make sure that your child’s sleep environment is quiet, peaceful and dark.

* Try to ensure that they turn off TV’s, computers, video games etc. at least one hour before bedtime (electronic equipment can “awaken” the brain and make it difficult for the brain to wind down).

* Try to encourage your teen to read, write in diary, or engage in other quiet activities just before bedtime.

* Keep fizzy drinks and sweets away for at least one to two hours before your child is due to go to bed. It will be very difficult for your child to rest peacefully while they have sugar raging through their blood stream.

* Avoid any caffeinated drinks close to bedtime, this includes: coffee, tea, hot

chocolate, some carbonated soft drinks and energy drinks.

* I know sometimes hectic days can throw routines out completely, but try to establish a nighttime routine as much as possible, that includes going to bed and waking up at the same time.

The amount of sleep required, varies from person to person, but a teen should average around 9 hours of sleep per night.

For part two, Promoting effective and critical thinking skills, please click here.

The importance of sleep in the teen years.


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