Is Lack of Sleep Killing Our Teens?

To Your Health
April, 2016 (Vol. 10, Issue 04)

Is Lack of Sleep Killing Our Teens?

By Editorial Staff

We all know how important sleep is – if you don’t, go without it (or without enough of it) for a few days and then see what happens, even in the short term.

Now consider the established consequences of chronic sleep problems: increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke, among other health issues.

Who’s suffering? Anyone can experience sleep problems, whether short or long term, but research is revealing one population may be at particular risk: teens – and some of the consequences are issues that already keep worried parents awake at night.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests teens who get less than seven hours of sleep a night are more likely to engage in one or more risky health behaviors including texting and driving, drinking and driving (or riding with a driver who’d been drinking), or not wearing a seat belt than teens who get nine or more hours of sleep nightly. Of course, all of the above behaviors increase the risk of serious injury or death.

sleepy teen - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

So, how can you help teens get better sleep? The Cleveland Clinic offers the following advice to help ensure teens get adequate sleep on a nightly basis:

  • Be Consistent: Teens need approximately nine hours of sleep a night to function optimally. To achieve this, try to maintain a consistent sleep-wake schedule throughout the week and even on weekends.
  • Nap Wisely: A good nap is a great way to rejuvenate, but limit them to 20-30 minutes in the early afternoon only to avoid difficulty falling asleep at night.
  • Exercise Matters: Consistent exercise of at least 30-60 minutes a day, four-plus times a week, will help teens sleep better – but make sure to avoid exercise within 2-3 hours of bedtime.
  • Eat Smart: Going to bed hungry (or too full) can cause sleep problems, so eat healthy meals throughout the day and a light snack 1-2 hours before bedtime.
  • Preparation Is Key: A quiet, comfortable, dark bedroom is ideal for proper sleep. Another key: Keep it clean (a challenge for many teens) and relaxing.

To read the clinic’s complete list of sleep recommendations for teens, click here. If you’re a teen or the parent of a teen who’s having trouble getting adequate, restful sleep, talk to your doctor about these and other solutions.

Think Straight: Concussion Facts

To Your Health
April, 2016 (Vol. 10, Issue 04)

Think Straight: Concussion Facts

By Charles Masarsky, DC, FICC

If you’ve done any research on concussions, you have probably already familiarized yourself with the Zurich Statement1 and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s fact sheet,2 among other relevant literature.

While public awareness of the problem is much greater today than it was 10-15 years ago, there is still much confusion among the general public. Here are some important points to be aware of and discuss with your doctor:

You Don’t Have to Hit Your Head to Hurt Your Brain

Many people still think a blow to the head is required to get a concussion. There is now widespread scientific consensus that an injury to another part of the body can transmit enough force to the head to cause concussion. Therefore, all sorts of trauma, including sports injuries, assaults, slip-and-fall incidents and whiplash, can cause concussion.

A Concussion Doesn’t Always Result in a Knockout

While a dazed feeling is common, loss of consciousness actually afflicts a minority of concussion victims. This fact still surprises many people.

The Concussion You Have Immediately Isn’t Necessarily the Concussion You Have Eventually

The severity of the concussion may not be apparent until hours or days after the trauma. If this is not understood by those in close contact with the concussion victim, deterioration can be easily missed.

You Can’t Just Snap a Picture of a Concussion

Concussion - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

Ever suffered a blow to the head, but an MRI was done and found no concussion? The misconception that standard imaging will rule out concussion is still prevalent. A careful history and physical exam are essential in evaluating and following the concussion victim.

Concussions Don’t Always Go Away by Themselves

Sadly, concussion victims are too often told to “walk it off,” even today. While a majority of adults recover from signs and symptoms of concussion within 10 days (3-4 weeks for children and adolescents), a significant minority develop post-concussion chronicity.

An Injury That Hurts Your Brain Hurts Your Spine

The misconception that doctors of chiropractic have no legitimate role to play in managing the concussion victim is unfortunately widespread within the health professional community, as well as the lay public. It surely boggles your imagination that someone could emerge from a concussive injury and not have new subluxations or exacerbation of existing ones.3 Recent clinical findings indicate failure to correct these subluxations can be a factor in chronicity of concussion symptoms.4


  1. McCrory P, Meeuwisse WH, Aubry M, et al. Consensus statement on concussion in sport. The 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport Held in Zurich, November 2012. Br J Sports Med, 2013;47:250-258.
  2. “Facts for Physicians About Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Masarsky C. “The Concussion-Subluxation Complex.” Dynamic Chiropractic, Nov. 15, 2015.
  4. Masarsky C. “Post-Concussion Patient Care: Relevance of the Chiropractic Adjustment.” Dynamic Chiropractic, Aug. 1, 2014.