Do you know that feeling you have when you wake up refreshed? You went to sleep at a decent hour, you slept all night without waking, and now you are awake and feel ready to start the day. Did you feel that way when you woke up this morning? No, neither did I. That is the inspiration for this blog topic: The ever-elusive Good Night of Sleep. As adults we know there are a million things getting in the way of our sleep–work stress, family issues, anxiety about responsibilities, health concerns, etc. But, those are adult problems, right? Nothing for teenagers to worry about…right? Unfortunately, many adolescents are sleep-deprived. Problems sleeping is one of the top 3 complaints I hear from my students on a daily basis.
According to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “teenagers 13-18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.” Getting enough good quality sleep leads to better health and educational outcomes such as improved attention, behavior, learning, memory retention, emotional regulation, and mental and physical health. Insufficient sleep increases risk of accidental injuries, obesity, diabetes and depression. In teenagers it has also been associated with increased risk of suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that 70 percent of high school students are not getting the recommended hours of sleep. Studies have estimated that 11 percent of adolescents have a history of insomnia and children with neurodevelopmental diagnoses such as ADHD have a particularly high risk for sleep disturbances (because of the nature of the disorder and the medications used to treat it).
Although sleep disturbances can turn into a chronic problem, many of them are transient in nature and can be the result of a stressful life event. When a transient sleep disturbance occurs, it is important to address it so that it does not become a chronic issue. The majority of sleep disturbances in adolescents are likely to have behavioral origins and can be successfully addressed with good sleep habits. Once these routines are established, they can benefit an adolescent for a lifetime. This is the time in their lives when their brains are maturing during sleep processes. When your teen experiences sleep disturbances it is important to commit to a consistent sleep plan.
Healthy Sleep Habits (as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation) include the following:
• Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning, even on weekends and during school breaks.
• Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and relaxing, neither too hot nor too cold.
• Make sure your bed is comfortable and use it only for sleeping, not other activities.
• Avoid large meals a few hours before bedtime.
• Exercise regularly.
• Avoid caffeine after noon.
• Avoid screen time several hours before bedtime.
• Use relaxation tools, such as meditation or progressive muscle relaxation.
At Oak Hill Academy we do several things to encourage a good night’s sleep for our boarding students. “Quiet Time” starts promptly at 8:30 each evening. During this time students are given an opportunity to be in a quiet, relaxed environment. This encourages their bodies to release melatonin, a natural hormone produced by the brain’s pineal gland that promotes the onset and duration of sleep. We also have a regular lights-out time of 10:30 pm, as well as a regular wake-up time. This keeps our students on a consistent schedule and promotes natural sleep/wake cycles. A few years ago we adjusted our start time for the school day to be 45 minutes later. This change was implemented in response to data and recommendations from several sleep researchers, including the American Thoracic Society. Organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, and the American Medical Association support later school start times. Structuring the school day and associated activities to be compatible with the natural circadian rhythms of an adolescent’s brain helps achieve quality sleep, the benefits of which are far-reaching.
But what if you can’t sleep? It is hard to conquer the world if you don’t feel well-rested, right? Many people use over-the-counter melatonin or antihistamines to help fall asleep. But pharmacologic intervention should be considered only if a healthy sleep routine is committed to and followed consistently without improvement, or if there is another health issue interfering with sleep. One of the dangerous results of taking medication without professional guidance is that it could cause rebound insomnia when the medication is stopped, producing a chronic issue.
A change in behaviors surrounding sleep is often as effective as using over-the-counter medications–especially if the sleep disturbance is transient in nature. It is important to point out that no hypnotics or other medications have been approved for use by the FDA for sleep problems in people under the age of 16 years. If a sleep medication is prescribed at this age, it should be done with careful monitoring and consideration of benefits versus risk.
We are so close to the end of the school year, when students leave us for the summer. While students are at home, they sometimes do not adhere to a normal schedule and this can throw off their natural patterns of sleep and wakefulness. When they return to school in the fall, they might have difficulty being able to sleep for the first few weeks. Encouraging your teen to stick to a normal sleep schedule during school breaks can go a long way to help prevent this from occurring.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid. When you rest, your sleep will be peaceful.
Now, go forth and conquer the world – but first, sleep!
Betsy Anderson, RN BSN
Oak Hill Academy Nurse
OHA’s “Word of Mouth” staff is pleased to present Volume 12 Issue 3 of the newspaper, which features a Winter Sports section as well as features on everything from Spirit Days to Warrior Nights and other activities on campus. Please enjoy this installation of our student newspaper!
Today’s guest blog post is written by one of Oak Hill Academy’s school nurses, Betsy Anderson, RN, BSN. As her life’s work is with boarding high school students, Nurse Betsy is very passionate about health issues that are particularly relevant to teenagers.
Several years ago I was taking a road trip and my mind was wandering. I was thinking about a law that had been recently passed in Virginia making it illegal for adults to smoke in cars with their children present. As a school nurse, and as a mother myself, I am a strong supporter of this law. I remember looking around as I drove, seeing other people driving or riding in cars, people walking down the street. I looked to see if any of the people I encountered were smoking. …I COULD NOT FIND ONE. The healthcare professional in me felt a small sense of satisfaction. I thought to myself, “You go, America! You are doing it! You are kicking your horrible habits!” Little did I know a new enemy was lurking just around the corner. Vaping.
Although vaping has had a huge increase in popularity in the last two years, the first electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) was invented and patented in the 1960s by Herbert A. Gilbert. The device uses a heating element to turn liquid (e-liquid or e-juice) into a vapor that the user inhales. Mr. Gilbert wanted to market his nicotine delivery invention as an alternative to traditional smoking. But because tobacco companies already had so much momentum in the consumer market, it never took off. Only recently have e-cigarettes exploded in the marketplace. What is alarming to me is that the largest population of e-cigarette consumers are adolescents, and that this number is growing at unprecedented rates. According to the CDC, e-cigarette use in high school students tripled from the year 2013 to 2014. This means that in one year the number of high school students in the United States who vaped increased from 660,000 to 2 MILLION. This number is unbelievable.
Why is vaping so appealing to adolescents? I believe one reason is that the marketing for these products has been misleading for many. E-cigarettes have been marketed as a “safer” alternative to smoking, but there is no real data to support this claim, In fact, studies are continuing to be published that show how very harmful vaping can be. When a people believe that vaping is “less harmful” than smoking, they neglect to consider that it is not HARMLESS. Another reason vaping is so appealing to adolescents is that it tastes good and has virtually no lingering smell. The most popular e-juice flavors in 2017 were Gummi Bear, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Catch Ya Latte, On Cloud Custard, Muffin Man, and Cloud Candy. Clever names. And they sound delicious, right? And some vapes and supplies are so small and so disguised that it is easy for teens to hide them from their parents and school officials. If a teen is determined to hide their vaping, it is virtually undetectable. The final reason I believe vaping has exploded in the adolescent population is because of its concentrated and addictive quality and the effects of nicotine on the adolescent brain.
The absorption rate of nicotine is increased in the vapor delivery method and the nicotine receptors in the brain are overloaded with stimulation. Studies have shown that nicotine intake from one vape session can be equivalent to smoking 6 cigarettes, depending on the vaping device and e-juice used. When nicotine enters the brain and attaches to a receptor, the reward center lights up and dopamine is released. With continued use, more and more stimulation is needed for dopamine to be released, so users vape more and more. The adolescent brain is even more susceptible to this dependence trigger because the prefrontal cortex, where the reward center is located, is not fully developed until the early 20s. No wonder it is so addicting. Once exposed to this substance, our children will have an incredibly hard time not becoming addicted for life. When teenagers begins vaping, they are 70% more likely to begin smoking traditional cigarettes within 5 years.
Nicotine causes permanent damage to adolescent brains, and can affect long-term development, causing life-long problems with emotional response processing, memory, and reasoning and judgment abilities.
So, what is a school nurse to do? The first thing I have done is educate myself. I recently attended a conference that included a keynote speaker (Dr. Judson Brewer) who addressed addiction in the adolescent brain. One of the main areas he covered was vaping. I have spoken with colleagues. I have read countless medical journals and articles. I have learned so many scary facts associated with vaping that it is impossible to share them all in a single blog post. Vaping is a challenge for schools around the world, and Oak Hill Academy is no exception. We are a boarding school. Our students live here as well as attend classes. This means we must monitor classrooms, dorm rooms, and all other areas for vaping supplies. Teachers, resident life staff and administrative staff are all working together to tackle this very difficult issue. In healthcare, the best treatment is and always has been prevention. Vaping is absolutely a health crisis. I want my students to live healthy, fulfilled lives while they are with me and long after they leave me. That is why I became a school nurse. Children are the future of our world–and their success depends on their long-term health.
In order to decrease teen vaping rates, it is imperative that our students are educated about harmful effects of vaping BEFORE they try it. At Oak Hill Academy, we are currently developing educational materials to be included in our robust resident life curriculum, and we continue to explore other ways to educate our students. I ask that you, as parents and caregivers, become part of the team in helping fight this war. Educate yourself about vaping and its harmful effects. Share these facts with your children as soon as possible, and as often as possible.
Here are some excellent resources you can use to do this:
Thanks for reading!
Betsy Anderson, RN, BSN
Oak Hill Academy Nurse
We had a very early departure time to meet our ferry. We had a two-hour ferry ride from Belfast port to Cairnryan. After seeing some of the idyllic Scottish country, we toured the home of Robert Burns, considered the poet of Scotland. We then visited Glasgow on a very windy afternoon, saw some of the newest street murals painted by local art students and took in the architecture of the city center. The early wake-up call took its toll, so we settled in early to our hotel in Edinburgh.
You may recall that last year, Oak Hill Academy embarked on a European trip during Spring Break through the highly respected EF (Education First) Tours company. It was a tremendous success with our nearly dozen students coming away from Spain with a memorable cultural experience and friendships that will last a lifetime. One of our chaperones, Oak Hill Academy English teacher, Chris Tobin committed to make this trip an annual offering–but with a caveat: Let’s see another part of Europe – Ireland and Scotland!
This year’s trip will be chronicled here as updates and pictures come from Ms. Tobin and her group, comprised of 8 students. We hope you enjoy seeing their journey unfold as much as we do!
Post #1 3/14/18 Hello, from the land of rain… A trip to this part of the world wouldn’t be complete without some rain. And rain, and rain, and rain.
It was a very wet day, and we walked more than five miles around the city center (Dublin). We visited St. Patrick’s cathedral, saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College, did some shopping, and took in some art at the National Gallery.
We leave pretty early tomorrow, heading north to Belfast. The kids had no problem turning in early tonight!
The Principal’s Office recently announced that Jingyi Cai was awarded “Student of the Week” honors.
Jingyi (“Carritah”) is a senior from the Fujian province of China. This is Carritah’s fourth year at Oak Hill Academy. Her nominator for this award describes Carritah as a great student who gets along with everyone. She is always there with a smile and is willing to help anyone who needs it. She is very active on campus and has a great positive attitude! As an Honor Court judge, she is strong, but fair, and strives to help Honor Court defendants learn from their experiences and improve.
Students are regularly nominated and chosen by the faculty and staff for making notable contributions to Oak Hill Academy campus life.
Today’s guest blogger is Mr. Aaron Butt, Director of Student Affairs. He shares the lessons of February at a boarding school – the “in between days” are the stuff life is made of.
From the Director of Student Affairs:
February is a notoriously tough time at boarding school. Christmas Break is far in the rearview mirror and Spring Break seems achingly distant. We, like many other boarding school communities will understand, celebrate the completion of February. March has arrived at Oak Hill, and in typical March fashion, yesterday the daffodils were blooming and robins were chirping, and today we have snow. I call this time of year “Here, but not here.” We are just over a week away from Spring Break, and a few days into our last academic quarter. Basketball is winding down, and more students can be found on the tennis courts and soccer field. Spring is here, but not here. It is easy to wish away the days, to look down the road to vacations, warm weather, and graduation. Our encouragement to students right now is to live in the present.
Dr. Groves gave a devotion on Monday morning in which he referred to this time as the “in-between days,” and about the importance of living for today and not wishing the moment away. I was reminded of the movie “Click” with Adam Sandler, where he fast forwards his life through the dull moments, and realizes too late that life is made up of those small, seemingly insignificant events.
At this point in the year, students know what it takes to be successful at Oak Hill. We know the value of discipline, routines, structure. The hard part isn’t knowing what it takes, it’s doing what it takes – on a daily basis. It is no surprise to me that the students who have their bed made each morning and wear their shirt tucked in are the students who are on the honor roll; that the best athletes are the same ones who get up at 6:30am to go to the gym.
Oak Hill is a unique blend of accountability and individual responsibility. We ask students to abide by our structure, but also ask them to take ownership for their decisions, and be responsible. This is who we are, and who we will continue to be as a school. Our approach may occasionally change, but our mission will stay the same.
As we move into Spring Break, as spring weather actually does arrive and as the year winds down, my encouragement to students is that we are always “here.” We have already arrived. Take advantage of today, and as Dr. Groves says, “Grow where you are planted.”
Fresh off a “Pump Up Talk” from our partners at The Social Institute, Oak Hill Academy senior Abby Osho has responded with her own version of positive social media use. “When Ms. Tierney challenged us to step up and be leaders on campus in the area of positive social media use, I knew exactly what to do,” Abby says. Wanting to promote her family’s foundation, JNJ Foundation, she knew that she had a great opportunity with her peers here at Oak Hill. Our campus has a long tradition of supporting socially responsible causes. From Breast Cancer Awareness fundraisers to sponsoring children each year through World Vision, our students have historically been quick to respond to a worthy cause. Abby’s idea to take her family’s foundation to social media is an example of how Oak Hill Academy students can be positive users of social media, and it makes her presentation of a worthy cause even more beneficial. “I wanted to give a real life example of how we, as students at Oak Hill Academy, can use our social media access, even though it is limited, for good.”
Oak Hill Academy, a small coed, Baptist-affilitated, college prep boarding school in Virginia has a relatively strict set of boundaries governing cell phone and social media use for its approximately 150 students. Until recently, the school’s policies regarding technology have been admittedly focused on limitations and providing a buffer against the social media trends affecting teenagers–such as overuse, anxiety and distractions to academic performance. Beginning with its association with the Durham, NC-based Social Institute, the school plans to add positive social media use coaching to the campus lifestyle. “We felt that simply providing boundaries and limits during the week and then granting almost unfiltered use on weekends was missing the goal of teaching responsible use,” explains Dr. Michael D. Groves, Oak Hill Academy’s President. “By encouraging the kind of positive use that Abby is demonstrating with her social media campaign for her family’s foundation, we know we are going further in helping our students see the benefits of our weekend technology policies, not just the limitations of them.”
Abby plans to follow up her social media campaign with some on-campus awareness and fund-raising activities including a homeroom devotion and movie night. Here are some excerpts from her planned devotion:
Who We Are
My family foundation, founded in 2017, is run by my parents, Jamil and Nyanga Jaward. They started the foundation to give structure to their deep belief that “being a blessing to others is not only expected of us but required,” as we strive to be doers of Matthew 25:34-40. The Jamil and Nyanga Jaward Foundation is on Christ’s mission to assist impoverished children and widows, and help them rise above the challenges of poverty and rejection, through education and economic development.
The Jamil and Nyanga Jaward Foundation was established to advance education and relieve poverty, which we believe are interrelated. In poor nations, children do not have access to education because their parents cannot afford it and hence they end up in the same poverty cycle as their parents. The goal is to empower parents, especially widows, to start up small businesses that will give them the earning power to send their children to schools, in order to have a better chance of becoming economically independent.
Their scholarship programs help the less privileged get an education that will help them overcome poverty. Furthermore, constructing schools helps a wider community to have access to education where there is none, especially in Central African Republic. The foundation provides other assistance, such as school bags and supplies, lunchtime meals, all taken for granted in developed countries, and which are unavailable to so many students in impoverished nations.
Poverty relief is no longer consigned to third world countries. With the economic downturn, there are an increasing number of homeless people in England. Hence, the foundation works with churches in Kent to provide essential groceries and clothing for the homeless.
• Establish scholarship programs for the less privileged with high academic achievement in secondary schools in Africa, especially in Sierra Leone.
• Construct and donate school buildings for poor communities in Africa, especially in Central African Republic and Sierra Leone.
• Provide school meals and school supplies for the less privileged primary school students in Africa, especially in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
• Provide small business grants to widows in Africa, especially in Central African Republic and Sierra Leone.
• Provide parcels of food and other essential grocery items to homeless people in England, especially in Kent.
• Provide clothing to people who are homeless in England, especially in Kent.
In order for the foundation to gain wider public exposure, we need your help in disseminating information about the foundation by sharing our social media pages as they become available.
Spread the word!
The foundation is working to raise money to fund more projects that will help overcome the scourge of rampant poverty in Africa and beyond. The goal of the foundation is to gain partners who will fund specific projects of their choice, and to raise funds to support education initiatives and poverty relief. Please consider donating on our website using PayPal: https://jnjf.org/home
Oak Hill Academy
2635 Oak Hill Rd.
Mouth of Wilson, Virginia 24363
Phone Number 276-579-2619
Administrative Office Fax Number 276-579-4722
Academic Office Fax Number 276-579-2618
Ms. Cyndie Richardson
Director of Student Affairs
Mr. Aaron Butt
Director of Girls’ Resident Life
Mrs. Katherine Crede
Director of Boys’ Resident Life
Mr. Gary Crede
Director of Financial Affairs
Mrs. Rhonda Bowen
Student Expense Accounts
Mrs. Paula Phelps
Student Tuition Accounts
Mrs. Laura Phipps
Mrs. Regina Cooper
Director of Counseling
Mrs. Joy Groves
Mrs. Betsy Anders
Mrs. Anita Perkins
For additional contact info., visit the Faculty & Staff Directory.