Asleep at the Wheel

They’re constantly on the go, busy with school, sports, homework, jobs, friends and any number of extracurricular or volunteer activities. They are your teenagers, and they’re doing the best they can to prepare for life in a tough world and get a leg up on the future. And, if they’re not careful, they’ll run themselves ragged sacrificing on healthy living habits in order to achieve and do more.

One of the first things to go in a teenager’s schedule is sleep. And, unfortunately, when this becomes a habit, it’s more than just their health that suffers; it’s their performance in every area from school to athletics to–yes–driving.

According to research from Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), teens who average less than eight hours of sleep a night are twice as likely to report falling asleep behind the wheel than those who had receive eight or more. The same research also indicates that 36 percent of teens often drive to school feeling drowsy in the morning. And, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), driving while sleepy is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent, which is illegal in many states.

With auto accidents being the leading cause of death among teenagers in America, sleep deprivation only adds fuel to an already blazing fire. That’s why it’s important to make sure your kids are getting the amount of shut-eye they need. It’s not just about staying awake in class; it’s about staying alive on the road.

As a parent, there are several things you can to do in order to help your teens avoid skimping on sleep. First, help them manage their schedules. Many teens feel pressured to take on as many activities as they can in order to build material for a college application. While it may look good on paper to be involved in 47 different clubs, sports and organizations, it may not be the best situation for kids who are already balancing school work, social activities and life in general. Yes, being active in activities outside of the classroom is a good thing, but too many commitments can keep a teen’s candle burning far too late into the evening. Talk with your son or daughter to establish an appropriate level of activity and help them thoughtfully select how to spend their time.

The NSF also reports that teens need just over nine hours of sleep per night. While getting your kids to bed can be a chore, establishing bedtimes and curfews that facilitate the recommended amount of shut-eye may be necessary. Talk to your kids and let them know why these rules are being put in place and how the limits will benefit them. Help them understand why they need sleep, and use the topic as a way of developing good communication habits within your family.

Because your teens are under a great deal of stress, sleeping in general may be more difficult than going to bed. If that is the case, help your son or daughter establish a good sleeping environment that is dark, cool and quiet. And make sure they are getting proper nutrition and eating enough healthy foods to function at their physical and mental best.

When it comes to sleep-deprivation, teens in America are a high-risk demographic. Not only will it take away from their ability to concentrate, perform physical activities and maintain a good attitude, it can also be a deadly factor when combined with car keys and a steering wheel. At D&R Autoworks, we want what’s best for our customers and their families, and that’s why we encourage you to help your kids get the sleep they need even during the busy teenage years. By ensuring that they are well-rested, you will help them achieve success and health both in life and on the road.


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