As a parent you know that it’s crucial that your children get enough sleep, and that is especially true for teenagers whose school workload gets harder every year while conversely the results they get matter more than ever. Adding gymnastics or other athletic pursuits into the mix means that they need even more energy, making sleep even more essential.
Yet many teens seem to stay up half the night, however much you tell them it’s time to go to bed, and then stumble down for breakfast the next day yawning their heads off and looking anything but prepared for a productive day and you can’t help but feel that by 11 am they very well may be asleep at their desk. And making it to the gym awake? That will be quite a feat!
Before you assume that your teen is being defiant in refusing to stick to a bedtime or is just too into their Facebook-ing activities for their own good there may be a problem you are overlooking. Insomnia in teenagers is far more common than most adults (especially parents) might imagine. In fact in one study of teenagers aged 13-18 90% of them reported that they had trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep at least once a week.
There are as many causes of teenage insomnia as there are for the adult kind and rather than ignore the problem it really needs to be addressed so that a growing kid can operate at their best throughout the day.
Teenage Insomnia Causes
Before exploring possible remedies for even occasional teen insomnia it is best to try and determine what may be causing their sleep problems, as that will often change the way it should be treated. Common causes of teenage insomnia include:
Body Clock Issues – When we are little our body clocks function very well and it tells us when it is time to go to bed (as do our parents!) At the onset of puberty often that natural rhythm becomes disturbed and can result in difficulties in falling asleep.
Too Much Caffeine – When they were younger teens were probably kept away from drinking coffee but once they are older a trip to Starbucks can become an everyday thing, especially if they are looking for an energy boost if they had problems sleeping the night before.
Too much caffeine throughout the day is often a cause of insomnia in teens and it is not just coffee that is the culprit. Energy drinks like Red Bull that are so trendy right now can be even worse, as can many sodas.
Plain Old Stress – The teenage years can be very stressful. As we mentioned, school gets a lot harder, sports can become more intense and then there are all the problems and angst that come along with being a teenager in general to deal with. Stress and worry at any age can be a trigger for insomnia but it can all be amplified in a teen.
Teenage Insomnia Remedies
Although a trip to the doctor may be called for if their insomnia is chronic there are some simple things you can try at home that may help solve the problem:
Have Kids Cut Back on Caffeine – Suggest that your teen reduce the amount of caffeine they consume without banning it completely. Encourage them to switch to decaffeinated soda, quit the energy drinks altogether and limit their coffee intake to just one or two cups a day.
Implement Winding Down Time – Removing the video game console or TV from your teen’s room altogether will likely be a battle not worth fighting, but you can insist that all computers, TVs and video games are turned off at least a half hour before bedtime to give your teen’s brain a little time to relax.
Encourage Them to Share Their Worries – As also previously mentioned, stress and worry is a major cause of teen insomnia but most teenagers will not always willingly come to you to discuss many off their concerns. Therefore it falls to parents to talk to their older kids to determine just what it is that is bothering them and how their concerns can be sensibly addressed.