Statistics say that over 30% of teenagers worldwide suffer from insomnia. Causes of insomnia are many and the most common ones are:
– biological clocks go wrong due to drastic changes in a teen’s body;
– emotional instability peculiar to this age.
While all the other factors may be quite important and obvious, they are still secondary. We’ll talk about them too, but first of all, let’s define the root causes of insomnia. After all, if we don’t take them into account, any means of fighting teenage sleeplessness may not be that efficient.
- Has the inner clock gone crazy?
- It’s possible to sleep well at school
- So what can be done?
- Emotions overflow
- Insomnia and depression
Has the inner clock gone crazy?
Quite often kids aged 12-14 change their sleep-wake schedule. It’s like some trigger is switched in their brain and they try to stay up as late as possible and get up at noon.
Remember how full of energy your child was in the mornings not so long ago? The way he jumped on his (or your) bed when you still tried to wake up? Why did your kid suddenly turn into a grumpy night owl? It’s near to impossible to make him go to bed at usual time or to wake him up in the morning.
So what happened? Parents tend to blame environment or think that their kid’s temper got worse and he just wants to do everything in his parents’ despite. Shortly speaking, the adolescent transition to adulthood becomes the main thing to blame, even though they know little about it apart from the fact that all its signs and symptoms will vanish one day of their own accord.
To some extent, that’s true. No particular reasons for the changes in natural rhythms were ever defined. It is definite, however, that these reasons have a physiological origin, which means they are connected to the changes happening in a teenager’s body. For example, it is suggested that changes in natural rhythms occur due to heightened activity of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus situated in close vicinity to the area of the brain responsible for the human’s biorhythmic mechanisms.
This way or another, physiology is directly connected to any changes in natural rhythms and many sleeping issues that occur during the teenage years.
This wouldn’t be such a serious problem if the new sleeping habits didn’t conflict with the long-established (and depending on external factors) day schedule.
It’s possible to sleep well at school
In most of the schools, classes start at 8 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. But the new biorhythms insist that your teenager must get up no earlier than 11 – 11:30 a.m. It should be added that a teenager needs 9 to 10 hours of sleep a day, unlike adults who only need 8 hours.
It’s extremely hard for teenagers to go to sleep late (as circadian rhythm demands) and to get up early, so it’s no wonder they often feel tired. At the same time, attempts to go to bed earlier are unsuccessful because it’s almost impossible to fall asleep. This all leads to additional emotional stress.
So, delayed sleep phase syndrome is a state, when the sleep period according to circadian rhythm shifts against the desired (or necessary) time of falling asleep and waking up. And as a rule teenage years is the time when this syndrome manifests for the first time.
Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a sleeping disorder but not a classic case of insomnia. Ability to sleep doesn’t go anywhere; time of falling asleep just shifts to later hours. It should be noted that incorrect attempts to adjust the sleeping habits in accordance with the desired sleep schedule will eventually lead to insomnia.
While grown-ups suffer from this syndrome too, they can choose a type of activity that will allow them work at night and sleep at daytime, but teenagers don’t have such an opportunity.
So what can be done?
Quite often the delayed sleep phase syndrome in teenagers eventually passes. That is, your kid’s body will find an optimal combination of biorhythms and a desired day schedule on its own. But in some cases, only doctors can help.
Bear in mind that giving any sleeping pills to your child at your sole discretion is out of question, even if these pills help you or your relatives.
How can you help the child?
– To solve this issue effectively, don’t get focused on it. The main thing is for your kid to get as much sleep as he needs. Try to introduce some slight corrections into your child’s schedule — for example, by shifting the time of going to sleep 30 minutes earlier each day.
– Perhaps, to compensate the lack of sleep, your teenage kid would want to sleep at daytime. Let him do it and in no event make this a laughing matter. Just make sure his daytime sleep is not too long, otherwise it will lead to a bigger shift of schedule. Besides, it’s not recommended to nap after 7 p.m.
Teenagers have lots of reasons for negative emotions.
The majority will agree that adolescence is the most emotional period of life. So it’s not surprising that emotional stress can reach a level that will hinder a teenager from falling asleep.
It’s important to note that the desire to go to sleep later combined with emotional overload may create incorrect sleeping patterns that will be a source of problems for many years to come unless you take measures.
Teenage years are the time when serious anxiety disorders may develop and they affect all aspects of your kid’s life, including sleep.
It’s hard for you to understand just how many reasons for anxiety your child may have. Why being anxious, you might wonder? He doesn’t have to think about work or take care about his family, or to be responsible for anyone. But in fact, a real storm is raging inside your teenager.
The reasons for anxiety are numerous: relationships with peers, fear of not fitting in a desired group, fear of not being up to all kinds of standards. Social anxiety rises if a teenager moves to another district or town, or is transferred to a new school.
School is just another source of stressful situations. Fear of tests, bad marks, conflicts with the classmates or teachers — all of these cause anxiety.
Furthermore, first love and, possibly, first disappointment connected with it. As well as the desire for success combined with the fear of failure.
This emotional cocktail does not make sleeping easier. At this age teens tend to develop a nasty habit of replaying some unpleasant experiences in their mind, over and over again.
So what should you do when emotional overload doesn’t let your child fall asleep?
First of all, teach your kid some relaxation techniques. These may include breathing exercises, meditations, and some yoga asanas.
Second, don’t hesitate to eliminate the prime causes. In this case, you may need not insomnia treatment but emotional state correction.
If you feel you can not only listen to your kid but understand and accept his problems and give some advice, do it. But if every attempt to start a conversation with your son or daughter results in an argument, don’t make the situation worse. See a good psychologist: this would actually be the best thing you can do to help your child. After all, heightened anxiety doesn’t stand too far from depression.
Insomnia and depression
Never disregard depression! Unfortunately, teenagers often feel depressed. It’s needless to explain why this state is dangerous.
Insomnia in adolescent kids (as well as in adults) may be one of the symptoms of depression. So if sleep disorders are followed by the lack of interest for studying, communication with friends, favorite hobbies, bad performance in school, lack of appetite and general despondency, you have to pay special attention to your child’s state.
Sometimes the signs of depression may be hidden and parents, overwhelmed by their own problems, just don’t notice any changes in their child’s behavior. Mood swings and emotional changes are typical for teen years.
In this case, depression may not be one of the factors causing insomnia, which is bad. Because in the “insomnia-depression” tandem the latter is the one of the utmost importance and it requires professional attention.
So the most important thing for parents is to never lose contact with their child and to always be aware of his issues and experiences.
Another extremely important thing you can do is to teach your teenage kid to treat his life as an exciting journey and to find satisfaction in getting new knowledge and new experiences. Help your child show his talents and find reasons to be happy even in the smallest details. And there will be no place for depression or insomnia in his life.