By David Joel Miller.
An amazing discovery in the treatment of risky teen behavior was reported over the last several weeks. It went largely unnoticed by most mainstream media.
Furthermore, one single treatment has been shown to have high efficacy in treating teen risky behavior. It is extremely inexpensive and can be obtained and applied without a prescription. The treatment, while often resisted by teens with high-risk behaviors, has been shown to not only be effective under a wide range of conditions but to treat a large number of undesirable teen behaviors at a very minimal expense.
In a startling report, two researchers for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia found after studying data for over 12,00 U. S. high school students that a single deficiency coexisted with a huge increase in teens risky behavior. While the government report was reluctant to say that this deficiency was the cause of risky teen behavior, they speculate that this one key ingredient might reduce overall risk-taking in teens significantly.
Unfortunate this key ingredient can not be prescribed directly because it is not USDA approved for over the counter sales and is, in fact, available without a prescription. This one single item, not yet patented by a drug company, is available to almost all U. S.citizens for free.
High School students who were deficient in this one key item, and almost 70 percent of our teens were deficient, were almost two times more likely to be smokers. A continued deficiency if this ingredient, reported being necessary for happiness, resulted in a 50% increase in marijuana and alcohol use.
Long-term deficiencies in this factor were correlated with a huge increase in teen sexual activity. That was surprising since we most often have studied added factors that might cause an increase in sexual activity. Not many people would believe that a deficiency in a single ingredient necessary for life might increase the sexual activity of teens.
But wait – there is more, this deficiency doubled the risk for a suicide attempt. It was also related to getting in physical fights and being sad and hopeless. Kids who had this deficiency were also likely to be overweight, get less exercise and generally have a less healthy lifestyle.
So what was this deficiency? And how can we supplement teen’s lives to overcome this insufficiency?
The deficiency was a lack of sleep! Sleep deprivation was significant in kids with all these problems. And the one simple cure was more sleep!
Now teens will resist sleeping more, especially sleeping during the night. It appears that most teens are truly nocturnal creatures. More than one adolescent who was brought in to the psychiatric facility has confided to me that they rarely get much sleep at night. An increasing number of kids have T. V.’s and computers in their bedrooms. Many are online texting friends or playing games until close to morning. They have to set alarm clocks to wake up and even then they often can’t quite get it together in the morning.
Eventually, a teen who stays up most of the night finds they can’t function in the daytime. They are at risk to fall asleep at school, cut class or just plain be grouchy and get into fights and other negative behavior.
So it just might be that one thing a parent might do to improve their teen’s life is to make sure that child is getting enough sleep, even if that means restricting electronic avoidance of sleep.
Be careful if you teen has been avoiding sleep on a regular basis. If you suddenly try to take away their electronic addiction your teen may go into electronic withdrawal. During withdrawal from electronic sleep avoidance teens have been known to become grouchy, throw things break things, swear or even threaten to harm themselves or others. In extreme cases, you may need professional help to get the teen back on a night-time sleep schedule. But if your teen is having difficulties in life you just might want to examine their sleep habits and see if more sleep might improve their mood and behavior.
More sleep might improve your mood and emotions also. What do you think?
Till next time. David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC
For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog, there is also a Facebook authors page, in its infancy, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. Thanks to all who read this blog.
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