A complete guide to Insomnia in teenagers.
Teenagers, without a doubt, require adequate sleep. Parents generally notice that when their children are sleeping too late and wake up at midday or later, they are constantly feeling daytime sleepiness. And even then insomnia among teenagers is often overlooked.
According to a study published in the journal Sleep, 12.5 per cent of teenagers have insomnia, with over half of those experiencing chronic insomnia. As a result, insomnia is as widespread among teenagers as depression, anxiety, and substance misuse.
Sleep disturbances are frequently identified in children and adults who have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety. It is thought to be a sign of various illnesses.
Sleep disturbances or insomnia, in general, might be just an outcome or event stemming from depression and anxiety.
Based on past research, it’s likely that treating insomnia early in life could prevent up to 47 per cent of depression.
So, why are teenagers having trouble sleeping? And what can be done to improve sleep? We will see all about it in this very article.
Sleep Duration in Teens
During the adolescent years, the sleep phase undergoes significant modifications. Teens’ sleep patterns differ from those of children and adults. Teenagers require 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep every night on average, but they have short sleep duration with poor sleep quality.
Melatonin, the hormone that causes sleepiness, is produced later in teens than in children and adults. As a result, teenagers frequently have trouble falling asleep early and remain up till late at night leading to insufficient sleep.
When combined with an early waking time for school, most teenagers find it nearly impossible to acquire the 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep they require each night, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness.
Mood Disorders and Sleep
Sleep and mood disorders go hand in hand. It has been noticed that teens suffering from insomnia are most likely to stay unhappy or anxious. And teenagers who are depressed or are frequently disturbed, suffer from insomnia.
And this is why it is essential to have a healthy sleep routine.
Although females are more prone to suffer from these disorders as adults, sleeplessness affects both boys and girls equally in children and adolescents.
It’s not clear whether insomnia causes anxiety and sadness or it is the other way around. These diseases impact adolescent health, and therefore identifying and treating insomnia in adolescents is a critical health priority.
Recognizing Sleep Disorders in Teens
Before a doctor can treat insomnia, they must first diagnose it and then identify the root or major cause of the condition. Sleep hygiene is a typical first-line treatment for teenagers.
Setting regular bedtime hours, avoiding caffeine or sugar in drinks or food before bed, creating a relaxation or transition time between activity and bed, avoiding television, video games, and computer use while getting ready for bed, and regulating diet and exercise are examples of sleep hygiene.
Creating a regular nighttime schedule and other rituals can often help to reduce insomnia symptoms rapidly. If your difficulties are more severe, you should see your doctor and explore more aggressive treatments in conjunction with good sleep hygiene.
A variety of indicators can identify sleep disturbances in teenagers.
These are some of them: having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, dozing off in class, inability to concentrate, poor academic performance, feelings of despair or irritability, fatigue in the late afternoon, sugar cravings in the afternoons and decreased motivation.
If a teenager is facing any of these symptoms, it is time to recognize that you are suffering from insomnia.
Recognizing your sleep disorder is the very first step to curing insomnia.
Sleep Deprivation or Insomnia?
Teens stay up later due to biologically programmed circadian rhythms, but biology isn’t entirely a fault.
Part-time jobs, homework, social activities, computer games, television, social media sites, and other activities keep some teenagers up late — past the point where their bodies and minds are exhausted.
These teenagers are opting for less sleep to prioritize other activities.
The following are signs that a teen is sleep deprived rather than suffering from insomnia:
- To stay awake at night, people drink caffeinated beverages (cola, tea, or coffee) or “energy drinks.
- Playing late-night video games or watching late-night television
- When confronted with sleep problems, you may become enraged or moody.
Now that you know about sleep disorders and insomnia, let’s check on how to treat insomnia. What are the various ways in which insomnia in teenagers can be treated.
Treating Insomnia: 8 Ways
The first step in promoting good sleep in teenagers is establishing reasonable sleep-time practices.
Following are the 8 ways in which one can treat insomnia.
1. Make a bedtime routine
Make a bedtime routine and stick to it. Going to bed every night at the same time teaches our bodies to fall asleep more quickly and soundly.
Make a sensible bedtime a compromise – one that gives time for activities in the evening while also ensuring adequate sleep each night.
2. Remove electronic devices such as TV and computer from the bedroom
Any light, especially blue light, including that from a television or computer screen, might interfere with the body’s ability to fall asleep.
It’s preferable to keep the television and computer in a different room and concentrate on sleeping in the bedroom.
3. Stimulants that should be avoided
To avoid interrupting sleep, caffeine (soda, tea, coffee, chocolate) and other stimulants should be avoided from early afternoon onwards.
To have sound sleep health, we need to have a relaxing bedtime routine so that the sleep-wake cycle is appropriately maintained.
4. Keep the bedroom dark when you go to bed and bright when you wake up
The hormone melatonin, which promotes sleepiness, is stimulated by darkness. To prevent light from the outside, use dark window coverings.
The alarm clock should be turned towards the wall or covered. Bright light stimulates our bodies to wake up in the morning; set a lamp on a timer to help the body wake up naturally.
5. Don’t take too many naps
While napping can help us satisfy our sleep demands, too much napping might interfere with our evening sleep.
Nap for no longer than 40 minutes, and only between 3 and 4 pm – no naps after 5 pm, because falling asleep at night would be tough.
6. Indulge in Workouts
Maybe you don’t participate in any sports at school or after school. The body becomes anxious and restless after sitting at a desk all day and then working at a computer for hours.
Ideally, you should exercise for 30 minutes every day. Going for a fast stroll or run is the finest activity. It’s also nice to get outside and get some vitamin D from the sun.
7. Calm Down Your Mind
First, try to fall asleep by relaxing and breathing deeply. If that doesn’t work, I keep a not-so-interesting book beside my bed. A clip-on book light or a Kindle Paperwhite with the screen light turned down will suffice.
Other electronic reader screens emit an excessive blue light, which interferes with melatonin production. Turn off your bedside lamp because the light will interfere with melatonin production.
While reading, keep your room as dark as possible. Reading helps to distract from racing thoughts, and you can typically fall asleep in about ten minutes.
8. Stay away from hormone-disrupting ingredients and chemicals
Did you know that the compounds in your shampoos, lotions, face washes, and cosmetics might mess with your hormone balance?
Hormone or endocrine disrupters are substances that can disrupt the delicate balance of your hormones. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to even minor exposures because endocrine disrupters imitate the body’s tiny production levels.
In these 8 ways, one can maintain a healthy sleep routine and thereby treat insomnia.
Additionally, several natural remedies are helpful in the treatment of short-term insomnia in teenagers.
However, consultation with a sleep specialist is recommended for chronic insomnia.
It is possible to take a supplement that contains the hormone that causes sleepiness. Since melatonin generation in teens is delayed (some studies suggest it isn’t being generated until 1 am, compared with 10 pm for adults), there is some evidence to suggest that taking a melatonin supplement can assist teens with insomnia to fall asleep at an acceptable hour.
Melatonin should not be taken in teens before puberty or in the early stages of puberty. It should only be used for a short time and in small amounts. To find out if melatonin supplementation is right for your teen, go to a Naturopathic Doctor.
A soothing botanical (plant-based) drug that helps with insomnia caused by restlessness, anxiety, or an overactive mind before night.
Teens concerned about tests, social interactions, careers, and other issues are more likely to have this sort of sleeplessness. A cup of passionflower tea or a passionflower supplement taken 30 minutes before bedtime can be used safely to ensure better sleep.
Note: Passionflower should not be used if you are expecting a child.
Another gentle botanical help that can be used to help children, adults, and teenagers sleep better. It can effectively treat acute insomnia and is very relaxing whether taken as tea 30 minutes before bed or as a supplement.
Chamomile is not recommended for usage during pregnancy or in persons who suffer from hayfever.
The usage of valerian, one of the most popular natural sleep remedies, is not suggested for teenagers. Valerian has characteristics comparable to benzodiazepine medicines, which can produce restlessness rather than sleepiness in adolescents and teenagers.
Insomnia in teenagers is a severe health issue that should be addressed. Talking with kids about appropriate nighttime behaviour, sticking to a regular bedtime, and using supplements on occasion can help them get the sleep they need to excel in school, jobs, and life.
What Kinds of Sleep Issues Can Teens Have?
Some teenagers may have:
Restless Legs Syndrome or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
Leg and arm twitches or jerks at night are a symptom of periodic limb movement disorder.
The impulse to move their legs, usually at night, is known as restless legs syndrome. Tingling, itching, cramping, or burning may be experienced.
Teens with these diseases may have difficulty going to sleep and are usually restless during the night, affecting their sleep quality. They are fatigued, irritable, and may have focus or behaviour issues during the day. Some teenagers may suffer from both diseases.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
When a person stops breathing for a brief period while sleeping, this is known as obstructive sleep apnea. It causes people to snore, breathe loudly, toss and turn, and sweat profusely at night.
They are frequently very sleepy during the day due to their lack of adequate sleep, and they may fall asleep in class or take naps.
When something restricts the airway during sleep, obstructive sleep apnea occurs (such as large tonsils or adenoids). If not managed, it can cause learning, attention, behaviour, and cardiac problems. Obese people are also more likely to suffer from apnea.
Most teenagers experience nightmares from time to time. Nightmares can wake someone up during the night and make it hard to fall back to sleep. Stress or worry are the most typical causes of frequent nightmares.
Illness, some medicines, using drugs or alcohol, and not getting enough sleep are all things that can set them off.
The majority of sleepwalkers are children, but some teens and adults do as well. When a person is unwell, has a fever, isn’t getting enough sleep, or is agitated and is suffering from chronic sleep loss, they are more likely to sleepwalk.
Sleepwalking isn’t usually a major issue. Sleepwalkers are more likely to return to bed independently and have no recollection of their sleepwalking. Avoid arousing sleepwalkers, as this may startle them. Instead, gently return them to their beds.
Although narcolepsy is uncommon, symptoms frequently begin in childhood or adolescence. During the day, people with narcolepsy are extremely sleepy. They could become tired or fall asleep without warning.
They may lose muscle control or have vivid dreams when sleeping or waking up. They do not have a restful sleep. It might be dangerous when a person with narcolepsy experiences a sleep attack while doing tasks like driving.
This article’s advice is provided solely for educational reasons. It is intended to supplement, not replace, medical advice from a professional health care provider.
Anyone suffering from a health concern should seek advice from a Naturopathic Doctor or another primary care practitioner such as your family doctor.