Dealing with teen insomnia


It is an established fact that adolescents and teens require more sleep than other age groups. On average, growing teens need 8 1/2 to 9 1/4 hours of sleep in order to function their best during their daily life. The problem is that approximately 12 percent of teens actually get the bare minimum amount of 8 1/2 hours of sleep on a regular basis. This can lead to multiple problems including trouble in school, more aggressive behavior, unhealthy eating patterns, a lowered immunity to diseases and, for some, a higher chance of substance abuse as a coping mechanism.

One of the many reasons a teen may be struggling with not getting enough sleep is because of insomnia, which is when a person has trouble falling or staying asleep or achieving restful sleep at least twice a week for a month or more. This particular sleep problem can be caused by anxiety, stress, depression, other mental or physical health conditions, substance abuse or simply from poor sleep patterns and sadly it is a widespread issue among American teens.

One study discovered that, of the 1,014 teens interviewed, one-third reported having sleep problems at some point in their life. On top of that, at least 94 percent of these teens reported that they had difficulties sleeping at least twice a week for a month or longer within the past year. Additionally, 17 percent of the study’s participants met the criteria for chronic or frequently recurrent insomnia starting at the average age of 11 with 14 percent of them having had an episode of insomnia within the last 30 days prior to the interview.

When it comes to treating insomnia for teens, experts discourage self-medicating, as that can lead to patterns of substance abuse. Consider the following tips for remedying insomnia. If the condition does not improve, consult a doctor.

Helpful tips for dealing with insomnia:

  • Make and keep a bedtime routine:

Establish a regular bedtime and make sure to stick to it. It is difficult to be consistent with homework and extracurricular activities, but proper time management will allow for adequate sleep. Additionally, take some time to wind down: read a book, listen to calming music, take a bath, etc. Creating a good bedtime routine that helps to ensure restful sleep will pay off in the long run.

  • Avoid excessive napping:

Teens get tired in the middle of the day and small naps can be beneficial, but avoid excessive napping. Try to keep it to 40 minutes, napping mostly between three or four in the afternoon. This provides an energy boost, but prevents teens from struggling to fall asleep later at night.

  • Turn off the TV, laptop and anything else that creates ambient light:

Lights keep people awake, even the small ones. Even while one is asleep, light will interfere with the body’s sleeping pattern, resulting in less restful sleep. Shut down the computer at bedtime and turn off the television, or keep them in a separate room to maintain the focus of the bedroom purely on sleep.

  • No stimulants:

Avoid anything containing caffeine after the early afternoon. This means no soda, caffeinated tea, coffee, or any other beverages that could cause insomnia. This includes drug stimulants, too. Unless prescribed by a doctor, a teen shouldn’t be using stimulants at all.

  • Figure out what works:

Not everyone is going to be able to benefit from the same patterns to combat insomnia. One person may benefit from reading with a mug of chamomile tea before bed to wind down while another may do better with a long workout paired with a relaxing shower/bath and music. Each person should figure out what works for him or her. So read, drink calming liquids, listen to relaxing music, exercise, lay in the dark and fall asleep while praying or anything else that works.

Insomnia can seriously interfere with a teen’s daily life and takes a toll on his or her mood and mental health, often causing disorders or substance abuse. It is best to take steps to combat insomnia through the aforementioned tips, but they may not work for everyone. If a teen is still struggling with insomnia, it may be beneficial to talk to a doctor about the issue and discuss further options.

If a teen is struggling with mental health disorders or addiction, whether it is the result of insomnia or the cause of it, it is best to seek help. To learn more about treatment for teen boys, visit or call 866-520-0905 for more information.

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