Tag Archives: Depression

Teens and Sleep

Sleeping_while_studyingParents today have to deal with so many issues when parenting teens that it is easy to lose track of the basics, sleep for example.

Did you know that a lack of sleep in teenagers is linked to:
• suicide
• high blood pressure
• heart disease
• Type 2 diabetes
• depression
• sexual activities
• car accidents
• poor school performance
• mental health issues
• risk-taking behavior
• substance abuse
• binge drinking
• obesity
• social inhibition
• sedentary behavior
• low socioeconomic status

The CDC reports that the recommended amount of sleep for teens is nine to ten hours. A recent study found that 60% of high schoolers report they do not get over seven hours. The majority of high school teens are falling at least two hours short! This shortfall results in a
• 47% greater likelihood to binge drink
• 80% greater likelihood to have regretted sexual activity

What can parents do?

1. Do what you can. Increasing sleep just one hour results in a ten percent improvement in most of the consequences.
2. Make adequate sleep a condition to drive. If your teen doesn’t get enough sleep, take their keys. You wouldn’t let them drive drunk. Why would you let them drive drowsy?
3. Remove electronics (televisions, cell phones, video games, tablets, computers, etc.) from the bedroom. Some studies show that the light of a screen makes us think it is daytime and makes it difficult to sleep. Many studies show that incoming texts and social media posts interrupt teen sleep. Other show that these items just keep teens awake longer due to their participation.
4. Regulate caffeine consumption. Energy drinks and specialty coffee drinks can have as much caffeine as ten cups of coffee!
5. Set a bedtime. Studies show that teens with a set bedtime have a much more positive sleep pattern.
6. Establish a quiet time of one hour before bedtime. Teens who do not use electronic devices or do school work an hour before bedtime got more sleep.
7. Set a good example. The CDC says adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Model the suggestions above in your own life.

Brody, J. (2014, October 21). Hard Lesson in Sleep for Teenagers. The New York Times, p. D5.
CDC. (2013). How Much Sleep Do I Need? Retrieved from Sleep and Sleep Disorders: http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.htm
Keyes, K., Maslowsky, j., Hamilton, A., & Schulenberg, J. (2015, March). The Great Sleep Recession: Changes in Sleep Duration Among US Adolescents, 1991-2012. PEDIATRICS, 460-468. doi:10.1542/peds.2014-2707
National Seep Foundation. (2006). Sleep in America Poll – Summary of Findings. Retrieved from Teens and Sleep: http://sleepfoundation.org/sites/default/files/2006_summary_of_findings.pdf
Wong, M., Robertson, G., & Dyson, R. (2015, February 16). Prospective Relationship Between Poor Sleep and Substance-Related Problems in a National Sample of Adolescents. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 335-362.

Pride and Pornography

empty-heart-squareI had a high school sweetheart for two and a half years. I proposed to her after graduation. She would later break up with me but this article is not about that break up.

I had previously broken up with her the summer after my junior year. I went on a church mission trip to another state. I was quite smitten with a girl there, and we had a one-week summer romance.

On the drive home, I remember being very confused. I concluded that I must not love my girlfriend back home after all. If I did, I wouldn’t have acted the way I did on this trip. My reasoning was that my behavior on the trip did not meet my value that I loved my girlfriend.

I was left with two choices:
(1) Change my behavior to match my values.
(2) Change my values to match my behavior.
I chose option two. The right thing for me to do was to end that relationship so I broke up with her.

After about a month, I realized I was even more unhappy. I did indeed love my girlfriend and I was not with her. I went back to option one and we got back together.

Was this just the ways of an immature teenager? Possibly. However, I see a lot of adults doing the same thing.

There is a fundamental human principle at work: pride. Option one involves admitting wrong, asking for forgiveness, and working to do better. I had too much pride for that option. I had so much pride that option never even occurred to me. I was miserable trying to live according inauthentic values. I finally turned back to option one.

No one is perfect. We will all get out of synch with our values. Admit your mistakes. Don’t let pride force you to discard your values. Otherwise you may start looking to fill that void with pornography or sex before marriage or other behavior that you not only don’t value but actually hate. Trust me. I know.

Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Isaiah 32:8: But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.

My Recovery Celebration

CR Summit(The Celebrate Recovery group that I attend held a special ceremony for my step study group at the completion of our nine-month study of the twelve steps. The following is the mini-testimony I shared.)

Two years ago, I wanted to do a step study for 3 reasons:

  • start a Celebrate Recovery at my church
  • enhance my non-profit ministry
  • gain experience in counseling

I would use my previous struggles of pornography and over-eating for my “issues.”

The ministry leader said, “Perfect timing because we have some step studies starting soon.” Well “starting soon” evidently meant seven months. Then a conflict with one of my graduate degree classes pushed it out a full 14 months!

However, now I was starting for three new reasons:

  • My porn issue had returned
  • My over-eating had returned
  • I was depressed

I see now that those delays were about God preparing my heart.

As we began our work on step four which is our personal inventories, my church sent my wife and I to California to attend the Celebrate Recovery Summit to prepare to start a Celebrate Recovery at our church.

At the final worship service, it all hit home. In tears I wrote the following words on a 3X5 card:

“I hurt from a father who made fun of me and expected perfection. He belittled me and my calling to be a minister. I have lived my life trying to prove him wrong. I have cared more about what others think of me instead of what God thinks of me. I have tried to stay in control of all aspects of my life to minimize my risk of being belittled. I have craved earthly titles to justify my worthiness instead of wearing the name of Jesus Christ.”

I took a nail and hammered this card to a cross.

My wife said, “You just completed step five. I am so proud of you.” I was shocked. This wasn’t about pornography, over eating, or depression. Apparently God was more interested in the deeper issues of my heart.

God used my step study brothers to drive me even deeper. Their sharing reflected an honesty and vulnerability I had never experienced with other men. I love you guys.

Let me close with my favorite scripture from the Step Study:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”  –  Isaiah 43:18-19