Q: On school days, the bus picks up my 15-year-old at 6:30 a.m., and with after-school activities and homework, he’s sometimes up until midnight. Then, on the weekends he sleeps until noon. What can I do to get him on a better schedule? -- Corrine C., Hot Springs, Arkansas
A: Sleep and teenagers -- they can be as hard to get together as oil and water! Many kids’ bus rides are super early, like your son’s, and schools start too early. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that teens’ natural sleep cycle makes it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m., so too early a start assures that students will be sleep-deprived and that their learning handicapped. That’s why the AAP recommends schools start at 8:30 or later. Let your school board know about the AAP recommendations (at www.aap.org), and see if you can begin a campaign for change.
But that’s not the only way you can help your son establish a healthier sleep schedule.
First, let him know you’ve got science on your side. Recent American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommendations says 13- to 18-year-olds need 8-10 hours nightly! Here’s why. Lack of sleep not only makes it harder to learn and retain information, but it triggers all kinds of other problems: moodiness and frustration; risk-taking, such as drinking and driving fast; slower reaction time; and drowsy driving.
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Then, look at your son’s homework load and after-school activities. Together explore ways (study hall?) he can get homework done more efficiently. Help him to prioritize after-school activities to see what might be eliminated or reduced.
TV? Out of his bedroom! (Around 62 percent of kids have one.) It’s associated with less sleep, unhealthy weight gain and poorer academic performance!
Also ask him nicely to leave his phone out of the bedroom at night. Late-at-night social engagement is overstimulating, plus blue wavelength light from screens disrupts his sleep cycle!
Q: I just heard that eating insects is actually good for you. Yuck! I thought they were a food of last resort, like if you are starving, right? -- Dick B., Lafayette, Indiana
A: Well, sometimes it can be a food of last resort; during the Khmer Rouge period, many Cambodians survived by eating wild tarantulas, minus fangs and poisonous sacks. Today in that country fried tarantulas are a delicacy, and they’re becoming scarce.
In addition to tarantulas, many insects, such as worms, grasshoppers and crickets, are packed with protein and void of saturated fat. In fact, 80 percent of the world’s population includes insects in their diet, while here in the U.S. entomophagy (eating insects) is becoming very hip. You even can find renowned chefs who have proudly put insect dishes on their restaurant menus and online!
Chef Aaron Sanchez toasts up grasshoppers (in Mexico they’re known as chapulines) and mixes them with chili and lime in his guacamole. Sample them at his New Orleans restaurant, Johnny Sanchez.
Chef Julia Medina created Tacos de Chapulines for her restaurant in New York City. The taco is filled with sauteed and dried grasshoppers and jalapenos, topped off with tomatillo salsa and guacamole.
Then, there’s Zack “The Cajun Bug Chef” Lemann’s Lightly Fried Dragonflies and chef Will Wienckowskis’ Roasted Cicadas. Author and chef Daniella Martin served one of the writers from “The Simpsons” shish-kabugs (which included crickets, scorpions, meal- and silkworms) at a bug-b-q in Los Angeles. That led to her (animated) appearance on that TV show.
Only 0.1 percent of the five million known insects are harmful, according to Professor Arnold van Huis of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. So, Dick, feasting on these creepy crawlers is in! Have a backyard barbecue and show your friends how cool you are. And remember, besides having the same amount of protein as beef, insects have a whole lot less saturated fat and they dish up loads of omega-3s. Plus, insects don’t produce anywhere near the greenhouse gasses livestock do. They’re fart-free (mostly) and eco-friendly.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at firstname.lastname@example.org.