On November 19, 2018, Sarah Pitts, M.D., from the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital spoke to Winsor students and faculty at assembly.
As Dr. Pitts explained at the start:
Good Sleep +
Mindfulness/Stress Reduction +
Balanced Eating +
Balanced Exercise +
Balanced Work/Fun +
Speaking at the invitation of Winsor’s Wellness Department, she noted that schools play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of young people and helping them establish lifelong healthy behaviors.
Elaborating on the first element in her “equation,” she noted that middle and high schoolers do not get enough sleep. Kids 6-12 years need 9 to 12 hours and teens 13-18 years need 8 to 10 hours. When people are sleep deprived, they experience an increase in fatigue, do poorly on exams, are more emotional, have an increase in appetite, and cannot perform well in sports.
She shared several tips for better sleeping habits, including:
· Wake up at the same time every day
· No caffeine after 3 p.m.
· Don’t go to bed hungry
· Have a nightly routine before bed
· Turn off ALL electronics
· Make your bedroom quiet, dark and cool
· Don’t use drugs/alcohol
· Practice relaxation techniques
She also stressed the importance for teens to reach out for support from adults and medical professionals to obtain advice, get help, and get guidance when they have concerns about their mental or physical health.
Social media has its place but also should be used with caution, she said, echoing other Winsor parent speakers. Excessive use of social media can cause signs of envy, resentment, loneliness, and depression.
She stated emphatically that each person should love their body, and love the shape they are in. Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.
Balance is a key part of staying healthy. She stressed balance when it comes to eating, exercise, and work/fun. The nutrition you take in allows you to have energy for all of your activities. Among her messages for students: there are NO bad foods. Consume food mindfully and try to eat foods from all categories (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy). Fuel your body before and after work-outs, and eat three meals a day.
Exercise helps in many ways: to have a stronger heart, lungs, muscles, and bones. Exercise also allows for better sleep, spurs the production of happy hormones or endorphins, improves memory, improves self-esteem, and enhances your ability to prioritize. Importantly, exercising can be fun!
It is important to have yearly check-ups with your physician, be up to date with your immunizations, see a dentist yearly, and follow up with any medical specialist as required to stay healthy.
Follow your path to Wellness and see what you can accomplish!
Choose My Plate
Dr. Sarah Pitts is a physician at Boston’s Children’s Hospital in the Adolescent Medicine Division and in the Bone Health Program. In addition to providing primary care for teens and young adults, she specializes in caring for individuals with menstrual disorders, contraceptive needs, eating disorders, and bone health concerns.