Sleep and the Teenage Brain

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Gettingalife
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Sleep and the Teenage Brain

"The lack of sleep affects the teenage brain in similar ways to the adult brain, only more so. Chronic sleep deprivation in adolescents diminishes the brain's ability to learn new information, and can lead to emotional issues like depression and aggression. Researchers now see sleep problems as a cause, and not a side effect, of teenage depression. In one study by researchers at Columbia University, teens who went to bed at 10 p.m. or earlier were less likely to suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts than those who regularly stayed awake well after midnight."

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/07/17/sleep-and-the-teenage-brain/

Acceptance. When I am disturbed, it is because a person, place, thing, or situation is unacceptable to me. I find no serenity until I accept my life as being exactly the way it is meant to be. Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.  Acknowledge the problem, but live the solution!

Andrew_Doan
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This is SO IMPORTANT!!!

This is SO IMPORTANT!!! Thanks for posting this!

First, sleep deprivation causes our brains to look like brains with dementia, see Daniel Amen, MD's brain scan studies below (note the sleep apnea brain = sleep deprived brain):

Second, teenage brains are more susceptible and more damaged by addictions and addictive behaviors. See my article I wrote below about the research on brain scan studies:

http://realbattle.org/teenage-brain-development-addictions/

Recent developments in brain scan research show that teens' brains are not fully developed until age 25! The prefrontal cortex, develops last, and is important for reasoning and higher executive functions, i.e. areas that determine right and wrong and impulse control... "should I hit my little sister?", "is God real?", and "should I steal?" type of brain functioning.

This is why alcohol and drugs in teens are more dangerous in teens than adults. Likewise, addictive behaviors, such as video game addiction and addiction to violent media/gaming, will have huge impact on their brain development.

In this video Dr. Ken C. Winters (Director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at the University of Minnesota) educates viewers on the vulnerability of the adolescent and teen developing brain as well as the detrimental effects of drugs and alcohol (as well as other addictive behaviors).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aiy2bPVfHg8

The above is based on this recent research at the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Notice the areas of the brain that turn blue. This is called pruning. Once a child "prunes" areas of the brain, the neural pathways that are strengthen becomes almost permanent. We see this in disorders like amblyopia, or lazy eye.

The first areas of the brain that prune are the cerebellum (coordination), somatosensory cortex (touch/feel), and occipital cortex (back of the brain that controls vision). Because the occipital cortex is pruned early in the child's brain development, amblyopia in children is devastating because vision loss may be permanent after the age of 10 or so!

In the digital age, we must be asking what areas of brain development are we forfeiting when parents use digital devices to "babysit" their children hours and hours on end. For teenagers who excessively use video gaming, texting, and other digital devices while the prefrontal cortex is being pruned, their brains may be leaving areas of reasoning and higher executive functions impaired, i.e. "lazy brain syndrome". I think the lazy brain syndrome we see in teenagers who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, and gaming is similar to lazy eye syndrome in kids.

Based on the above research in brain development. We need to be asking:

Can children really handle 40 hours of gaming a week?Can children really handle violent media, 40 hours a week?Can children handle violent gaming, 40 hours a week?Can children handle excessive hours with their smart phones and texting?Can children handle video game addiction?Can children handle any addictive behaviors?

40 hours a week may seem excessive, but the average American child is exposed to more than 40 hours a week of screen time weekly based on the Kaiser Foundation Research.

Andrew Doan MD PhD

My Videos: Internet gaming disorder is real & my story 

*The views expressed are of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the U.S. Navy or Department of Defense.

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I've also been wondering the

I've also been wondering the impact of computer screen light (tv, ipad, computer, phone, etc.) on adults. Sometimes I feel cross-eyed after being on the computer even though I'm doing things like photoshop and not gaming btw. :)

But seriously, doesn't light tell our brain to stay awake? I remember back in the day maybe 20 years ago I used to tan in a tanning salon. I went so often and ended up with horrific insomnia because of the light stimulating the nerves in the skin or something. It was so long ago that I can't remember how my doctor explained it.

I'm wondering even as adults we have this issue via our eyes with the computer lights. Sometimes if I'm on the computer late, I have a harder time sleeping. I try to close my computer early and my ipad a few hours before I go to bed and I find that I sleep a little better.

Andrew_Doan
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Yes, light affects circadian

Yes, light affects circadian rhythms which regulates sleep-wake cycles. It is best not to use the computer/screen before bedtime or during the night. I messed up my sleep cycle so much during my addiction that people thought I was hypomanic or bipolar. Adults are affected, but these affects are amplified in children!

Andrew Doan MD PhD

My Videos: Internet gaming disorder is real & my story 

*The views expressed are of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the U.S. Navy or Department of Defense.

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