On average teenagers need about eight to 10 hours of sleep each night, but when they don’t get this it can cause all sorts of problems, including reduced concentration and behavioural issues.
If your teenager is suffering from problems in the sleep department, then here are some ways in which you could help find a solution and solve the issue.
It’s easy to take sleep for granted, especially when it’s always come easy to you.
Although the theory goes that teenagers are one of the worst groups of people for sleeping in and not wanting to get out of bed, in some cases there are teens that aren’t getting enough sleep.
Anyone who suffers from sleep problems will know that not being able to get that much needed shut eye at night can cause a lot of problems for you during the day.
Being tired and yawning is of course the obvious problem, but there are other common issues too, such as irritability, loss of concentration, mood swings and behavioural problems.
When teenagers are at school or college and should, in theory, be concentrating on learning, if they feel exhausted from not sleeping properly, it’s no wonder if their concentration or behaviour wavers.
But if you teen is affected by lack of sleep, what could be causing it and what can you do?
Common Causes of Teen Sleep Problems
A variety of factors can cause sleep problems in teenagers, from lifestyle habits and emotional worries, to health problems. For example:
- Your teen may be staying up too late at night, for example from reading, playing video games, using the computer or watching TV.
- Your teen may have too much going on in their life, like social demands and homework, and might not be getting as much sleep as they should.
- Your teen may have something on their mind, which is causing worry, upset, stress and lack of sleep.
- Your teen may be going to be too early (yes, that can be an issue!) and lying awake for hours.
- Your teen may be sleeping at odd hours. It may seem good to nap or catch up on sleep during the day, but this can cause problems at night.
- Your teen may be waking up too early, or not getting to sleep properly; for example, due to a room that isn’t dark enough or is noisy.
Trying to identify what the problem is helps considerably, as you can then work towards sorting it out, but don’t worry if it’s still unclear as some of the solutions below may still be successful.
Solutions to Teen Sleep Problems
It may seem like a big problem to sort out, but there are plenty of practical ways in which you can tackle your teen’s lack of sleep.
Not sleeping properly due to staying up too late at night and going to bed too early can be helped by getting into a proper routine of going to bed at the same time each night. Our body clocks naturally like routine and, even if your teens body clock has been way off balance recently, getting back into a rhythm can really help.
Winding down properly before bed is useful too, so try and encourage them to turn off the computer, TV, loud music or video games a bit before they go to bed.
Not drinking caffeine in the evening helps too, as too much can over-stimulate the body and mind and discourage sleeping.
They could relax instead by having a warm shower or reading a book, all of which helps the body learn that winding down means bed is imminent.
If you think your teen is stretched too much, with too many social activities, homework and other work, then reduce the amount of unnecessary things they’re doing.
They might not be thrilled to reduce their work hours or cut back on extra curricular activities, but it could significantly improve the energy they have left for everything else.
If you feel that it may be worry, stress, anxiety or emotional issues that could be the cause of your teens sleep problems, then encourage them to discuss the issues with you.
Often teens don’t want to talk to parents, so find them someone else they could talk to instead, if they prefer.
Daytime naps might seem fun, but if they’re wrecking sleep at night, they should be stopped. If the issue could be noise or light related, try and work on improving the bedroom atmosphere, such as shutting windows at night (leave the door open a tiny bit for air instead) and put blackout curtains or blinds in to block out unnecessary light.
Sometimes solutions are easily implemented but, even if the problem doesn’t get rectified quickly or with the first idea, you can always move on and try a different approach.
If you’re still unsure and it’s continuing to be a problem, then please go and see a GP, in case there is an underlying medical cause involved.