Teens and Insomnia – Causes and Treatments

Even though they are not “little kids” anymore in need of a rigid bedtime routine,  teenagers still need to get plenty of sleep, about nine hours is optimal. As their bodies are still developing they certainly still need more sleep that an adult. Yet many teenagers do not get enough rest and quite a few of them suffer from at least a mild form of insomnia. It’s easy, as a busy working military parent to fail to pick up on this right away, especially as insomnia is often thought of as something that only affects stressed out adults, a busy employment lawyer in Charlotte, NC might be expected to have problems sleeping, but their kid? Not so much.

Why do Teens Have a Problem Sleeping?

As is the case with adults there are many possible causes of insomnia in teenagers. Some of the more common cases include:

  • A bad diet, or eating too much later in the evening (that trip to the burger place with their friends perhaps).
  • Overstimulation (playing video games until all hours for example).
  • Anxiety and stress (high school is no picnic).
  • Depression
  • Rebellion (they don’t want Mom or Dad telling them what time to go to bed anymore, that kind of thing is for little kids).
  • A medical condition like restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea.

Signs of Teenage Insomnia

It’s rare that a teen that will go to their parents voluntarily to complain about not being able to sleep at night. Unfortunately, most of the time it is up to mom and dad to spot the symptoms of insomnia in their teen and then talk to them about it. Any of the following could be a sign that a teen is not getting enough sleep:

  • They say things that they may as well keep playing video games or surfing the web because they won’t sleep anyway
  • Obvious daytime fatigue
  • Loss of appetite/change in eating habits
  • They are more irritable than usual
  • Unusual clumsiness
  • Falling grades at school

Treating Teens for Insomnia

Before any kid can be effectively treated for insomnia the cause of the problem has to be explored – which should involve a visit to their doctor. A serious illness like depression may be to blame and that is not a condition that should be ignored.

However, in many cases it is simply a case of what doctors call “bad sleep hygiene” that is the real cause of teen insomnia. It is then up to the teen and their parents to establish good habits that will make getting a good night’s sleep easier. establishing a good sleep hygiene routine will include:

  • Re-establishing a set bedtime
  • Finding a way to create a small relaxation time between the end of their day’s activities and bed. Bringing back the bedtime glass of milk that they may have had as a child can be a great way to do that.
  • Limiting the number of caffeinated drinks a teen consumes over the course of the day, especially energy drinks like Red Bull which can contain many more times the caffeine of a regular soda or a cup of coffee
  • Eliminating heavy meals later in the evening and attempting to eat a healthier diet that is lower in sugar
  • Limiting the use of video games and computers later at night.
  • Getting some form of exercise on a regular basis

Most of these measures will not only help a teen with insomnia get a better night’s sleep but they will help improve their overall health and well-being as well, something that left to their own devices many teens are too busy to pay much attention to themselves.

The most important thing about teenage insomnia is that it is not ignored. Teen insomnia is often a temporary thing but if allowed to continue unchecked it can turn into chronic adult insomnia which can be much harder to treat, and cause problems for years.