Lights Out! Teens and Sleep


If you’re a parent of a teenager I think it’s safe to assume we’d agree they are interesting beings. You never quite know what you’re going to get from one day to the next. Hormones wreak havoc with mood, and neurochemistry is in a state of constant flux.  It’s no wonder consistency is NOT a word we tend to associate with adolescence.

With 13 and 16 year olds living under our roof, my wife and I never know what mental state the boys will be in with the start of each day. What I can share is the mornings they have difficulty focusing, seem irritable. disorganized or gloomy, that a poor night’s sleep is generally the cause.  The days they have bright and sunny dispositions, clearly followed a sound, restful sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night to function best (for some, 8 1/2 hours is enough). Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.

Sleep is vital to sound brain fitness, so we make it a priority in our family. House rules for the boys include no television, video games, or computer time on school nights. Caffeine is strictly off limits. Lights need to be off at 9:30 pm unless the boys have school or related activities which require them to be up longer. And, they are responsible for getting themselves up, on time.

On weekends we lighten up, but can tell you if they stay up too late on Friday or Saturday they sleep too long and definitely don’t function well. Irregular sleep patterns on the weekends disrupt their biological clocks and hurt their quality of sleep during the week. But try to convince them of that when the Xbox beckons!

The older of our two teens sleeps well, the younger not so much. A couple nights ago he wanted to try our new auditory sleep aid so my wife handed him the iPod shuffle and SleepPhones and he started to listen. She left to do something and came to get me a few minutes later. As you’ll see in the picture above, he didn’t even make it down the hallway, much less to his room to sleep. He crashed, immediately, lights out!  Pretty exciting considering what a problem sleeper he has been. Needless to say he’ll soon have a TLP SLEEP system of his very own!

If you have sleepless teens, or have your own sleeping difficulties, you might be curious to know what was able to put him to sleep so quickly and naturally. This white paper by neuroscientist Dr. Seth Horowitz explains how this powerful sound and music technology works.

Tell me, what are the biggest concerns you have about your teenagers not getting the sleep they require?

Turn it Down! Talking Noise and Tweens

TURN IT DOWN! Sound familiar? This is a phase nearly every parent of a tween or teen will undoubtedly find themselves shouting over the din of whatever music is blasting out of their kid’s headphones.

As our sons and daughters head back to school its a great time to talk to them about safe listening habits. In Healing at the Speed of Sound® Don Campbell and I write extensively about the dangers of noise exposure, especially for our children, who often spend countless hours listening to music through ear-buds. Take a look at the Noisy Planet website to learn why you need to worry about noise and how to start a conversation about Noise Induced Hearing Loss with your children sooner than later.

From Noisy Planet— We are surrounded by noises, many of which have the potential to cause hearing loss. This also is true of kids, who take part in a variety of activities that put their hearing at risk. Any loss of hearing by children can have lifelong implications for learning, social relationships, and job opportunities.

In response, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) has launched It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing. The Noisy Planet campaign is NIDCD’s new public education effort aimed at preventing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) among children ages 8 to 12, or “tweens.” This age range presents a window of opportunity to teach children about the causes and prevention of NIHL while they are developing their own attitudes and habits related to their health, including their hearing health.

Adapted from the It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing campaign (, a program of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health.”

JAMA Reports Adolescent Hearing Loss Is On The Rise

If you are constantly telling your teenager to turn down the volume it is with good reason. A new study published in the current issue of  The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that hearing loss among teens is on the rise.

The study conducted by Joseph Shargorodsky, MD, MPH and colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston concludes the prevalence of hearing loss among a sample of US adolescents aged 12 -19 was greater in 2005-2006 compared with 1998-2004.

These findings come as no great surprise given Generation Z has had lifetime use of MP3 player, iPods, video games, mobile phones, and live on an increasingly noisy planet. When kids are constantly plugged in they overload their auditory system, which loses its protective mechanism with sustained exposure to loud sound levels over 85dB.

What is most alarming is the estimate that about 1-5 adolescents in America show evidence of hearing loss.  Unless our kids are educated about the risks of exposure to dangerous sound levels and their use of headphones is monitored, I fear this trend will only increase.

Hearing loss makes it difficult to listen in the classroom, follow directions, and learn. Coupled with hearing loss are auditory processing problems making it difficult for the brain to understand what it does hear, further compounding problems with learning, attention and communication. Hearing loss is not reversible, but can be treated with hearing aids. Auditory processing can be improved with targeted neuroauditory training.

Five Suggestions to Help Prevent Teen Hearing Loss

1) Limit headphone use to durations of no longer than 30 minutes to one hour at a time.

2) Set the volume limit on their iPod to about 80% of max volume.

3) Avoid use of ear buds (headphones inserted in the ear canal). Instead use headphones that cover the ears.

4) Use ear plugs in noisy environments, foam or wax plugs inserted properly can reduce volume up to 29dB.

5) Show them the study and ask them if they want to wear hearing aids to their senior prom!

Read the Abstract

View Video

If you are concerned your child may have a hearing loss visit the web site for the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association to find a qualified audiologist who can test your child’s hearing. To learn about The Listening Program® a home-based method for targeted neuroauditory training contact Advanced Brain Technologies 1.888.228.1798 for a complimentary consultation.