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Power Down and Sleep Better

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Is your child getting enough rest? The annual Sleep in America poll, conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, finds that most kids are getting at least one hour less sleep per night than experts recommend. The poll examines a variety of sleep-related issues, from how exercise affects rest to how kids sleep on school nights.

According to the foundation, the deficiency in kids' sleep is closely related to the presence of electronic devices in their bedrooms. About 75 percent of elementary school and middle school children have access to electronics in their bedrooms, and the number grows to nearly 90 percent for high schoolers. The extra stimulation, light and sound from electronics make it much harder for children to relax and head into dreamland.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends limiting the amount of screen time near bedtime and eliminating it completely an hour before turning in to ensure children get enough sleep. Instead, the foundation suggests unplugged activities, such as conversation, reading, playing non-electronic games or relaxing in any way that does not involve televisions, tablets or texting.

Keep in mind, adults should lead by example for the kids' sake and for their own. Adults, too, regularly fall short of the recommended amount of sleep, and much of this has to do with having phones and tablets at hand in the bedroom. The foundation's survey showed that parents who enforced a rule of no electronics in the bedroom, including their own, fostered a more well-rested home.

Lack of sleep shouldn't be taken lightly; it's a serious problem for kids and adults of all ages. It can lead to decreased concentration in school, a weakened immune system, increased risk of obesity and moodiness. Take an honest look at your children's nightly amount of sleep and determine whether they might be sleep deprived. Kids ages 5 to 12 should be getting about 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night. Teenagers need less sleep, but they should still be getting 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, only about 15 percent of teens are getting the recommended amount of sleep each night.

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