Sleep Problems in Teens: How to Deal with Sleepless Nights

    Sleepless Nights

    In the previous article we discussed the reasons of teens’ insomnia, and now it’s time to talk about the ways to deal with the sleepless nights.

    Doctors define insomnia as a condition associated with impaired sleep process or difficulty falling asleep. Teen’s insomnia is very common phenomenon in the modern world. Lack of sleep can lead to serious consequences like:

    – headaches;
    – lethargy, drowsiness;
    – irritability;
    – low school performance.

    How to recognize the problem and solve it

    Specifics of sleep in adolescents

    It should be noted that a teenager’s sleep is somewhat different from that of a kid’s or an adult’s one. More often than not teen’s difficulty sleeping is a result of the inability of the brain to adjust to sleep time.

    Medical studies suggest that a special hormone melatonin is responsible for sleep. And teen years are the age when this hormone is being produced later, which leads to difficulties falling asleep. If a stronger person with a stable psyche and spirit is able to cope with the problem, a teenager, full of doubts and experiences, is more prone to insomnia.

    Causes of insomnia in adolescents

    Doctors and psychologists associate a variety of factors with teen insomnia.

    As I’ve already mentioned the root causes of sleep problems can be some physiological changes specific for this age, as well as increased emotional tension and all the states associated with it like anxiety, stress, depression.

    Moreover the following factors can result in sleep disorders:

    Wrong daily routine. While on holidays or weekends, teenagers often try to stay up a bit longer for they don’t need to get up early and they can sleep as much as they want, and this leads to violation of the usual schedule. Moreover, teens believe that they will have an opportunity to sleep enough time during their holidays, though scientists have proved that it’s impossible to sleep “in advance”.

    Excessive mental and emotional burdens. Having come home from school, a teenager may need to rest and nap, and that’s ok. The main thing that he shouldn’t nap for too long, otherwise the routine will be totally broken.

    Emotional stress, mood swings or various feelings. Parents who want to help their teen should recall themselves being at that age. After all, what adults treat as an insignificant trifle, could be a disaster for a teenager. They experience all the events very emotionally, and this is a potential cause of insomnia.

    The lack of physical activity. If your child gets much information at school and homework, exercises in many cases not complement but compensate psychological loads. That is, a teen just needs to move. If the way to school is his only physical activity, he will have problems then. And active games, sports, or at least, regular exercise at home will help to normalize sleep.

    Bad habits. Smoking, alcohol, drugs. It is no secret that kids discover this side of life as teens. You may think that your child is too young to even think about such things. And, perhaps you’re right. But sleep problems is an occasion to ask your child again how he spends his spare time. Insomnia and sleep disorders can be caused even by the habits you do not treat as harmful ones. For example, coffee and energy drinks.

    Malnutrition. Everything is interconnected in the human body. And relation of diet and sleep-wake cycle is a proven fact.

    Internet can be a separate cause of sleep disorders in children and adolescents. Teens are ready to spend all their free time, as well as hours of sleep, using social networks and playing virtual games. Moreover, even when the computer is finally off, and the child goes to bed, the brain needs some time to relax and calm down having experienced lots of emotions. That is, it’s difficult to fall asleep quickly in this case.

    Improper way of preparing for sleep. For example wrong bedroom equipment and accessories, lack of proper sleep rituals.

    How can you identify insomnia in your adolescent?

    Insomnia in teens can manifest itself in different ways. Therefore, it is important that you watch your child closely.

    Sleep reduction. A teenager needs to rest for at least 8-10 hours; if he sleeps less time it’s a reason to worry then.

    Difficulty falling asleep. A healthy child needs 3-15 minutes to fall asleep, and in case of insomnia this time I prolonged up to 2 hours or more. And this is a very hard time for a teenager, being in his bed, wants to sleep, but the sounds, thoughts, memories or uncomfortable bedding don’t let him to.

    Frequent night awakenings. Anything can wake a teen up, for example, a noise, his snoring parents, a nightmare. But if a healthy child is able to fall asleep again quickly, a teenager suffering from insomnia has hard times doing this.

    Difficulty waking up in the morning. A sleepy teen wakes up experiencing fatigue and weakness in the whole body.

    You can think about the sleep problems if your child has such symptoms as:

    – irritability;
    – moodiness;
    – memory worsening;
    inability to concentrate;
    – loss of appetite or, on the contrary, a tendency to eat too much;
    – constant fatigue.

    And of course, do not ignore the child’s complaints that he does not sleep well, has difficulty falling asleep at night or waking up in the morning.
    How can you help your teen to cope with insomnia?

    Remember that insomnia is not a disease but rather a symptom of a problem. Therefore, to deal with insomnia efficiently, you need to identify its causes and then to take a number of steps to normalize your child’s sleep.

    Comfortable bedroom for a good sleep

    Avoid late meals, especially the ones that contain spicy, salty, fatty, and smoked products, as well as candies, soda drinks, coffee, and strong tea. If hunger doesn’t let your kid to sleep, some kefir, yogurt, a cup of warm milk, or a banana will be a great help.

    Take a good look at your child’s bedroom. Isn’t it time to change the bed? Perhaps, the old one is already too small? A comfortable mattress and pillows are also very important. A mess in the room and too bright colors used in its design don’t certainly contribute to falling asleep quickly. And every annoying thing hinders this process.

    Create a suitable room environment for your kid: silence, darkness, the optimal level of humidity and room environment. The room needs to be well aired and the curtains to be closed, because darkness stimulates production of the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for sleep. In the morning, it is desirable to open the curtains for the light to help the child to wake up faster.

    If possible, take the TV away from the bedroom, as well as cell phone and computer. It is also undesirable to watch movies or playing video games where scenes of violence are present. Any communication with the computer should be stopped at least 1 hour before the scheduled bedtime. The computer must be switched off.

    Encourage your teen to follow a specific daily routine: to go to bed and wake up at the same time both on weekdays and weekends. If your child started to go to bed near midnight, let him break this habit gradually.

    Try to let your teenager go to bed full of positive emotions: don’t’ quarrel before bedtime, don’t punish him.

    Naps can be very helpful at at this age. But don’t let your teenager take a nap after 5 p.m.

    When to visit an expert

    If all these methods didn’t help, then your teenager most likely has some more serious problems. These can be a variety of diseases a skilled doctor must identify. In this case elimination of causes can help greatly to treat insomnia.

    How do you cope with your teen’s sleeplessness? What ways do work for your child? If you have any tips share them with other parents. We love hearing from you!


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