Teenagers today are sleeping less than ever before! Hard to believe? Does your teen stay up all night? We all know that living with teenagers can be challenging.
Teenagers experience some of the biggest physical changes they’ll go through in their whole life, in a very short space of time. This alone can be exhausting as they grow and go through both significant physical and mental developments. As these happen, the body moves from the rhythm of going to sleep early and waking early to the opposite. This shift in their body clock isn’t immediate and happens over time, and can disrupt the body’s pattern of sleep over months or even years. This is known as a ‘phase shift’, moving the teenager from a childhood physicality and mentality to that of an adult.
Teenagers are prone to use mobile devices, computers and other such light-emitting products, which tricks the sleep cycle and disrupts it even further. If you thought your kids were frustrating when they woke you early as children, you’ll likely now be experiencing the exact opposite! Does your teenager stay up all night?
Keeping a routine, as you would for a younger child, can be beneficial, albeit you’ll use different timings. A teenager should sleep slightly later than a child but should not lie-in for a long time and once up, should be exposed to natural light as quickly as possible. Sleeping longer in the weekend’s, to ‘make up’ for a lack of sleep during the week, should be avoided and the use of mobile devices emitting disruptive artificial light should be postponed until your sleepy teenager is alert and properly awake!!
Teenagers have a lot of distractions that prevent them from having established bedtime routines. These distractions could stem from:
- Social media
- Social life
What are your teenager's habits on technology like mobile phones? If your teenager's need to use their phones to chat with friends and engage online surpasses what could be considered understandable, you have a problem brewing! For instance, your teenager could be out with friends but still feel the need to use social media half of the time.
Social media is a medium that people from all walks of life engage with one another. While this might sound positive, cyber bullying, online gambling is not a rarity among other downsides. And the anxieties that come with this are unreal if not managed quickly! A disruption in your teenager's sleep patterns ultimately leads to a sleep deficit, which affects your teenager's day time habits. For instance, a low appetite or mood swings could prove that your teenager is experiencing a sleep deficit.
You'd think only adults have insomnia owing to their stressful lives and jobs; you couldn't be further from the truth. Teenagers, too, may experience insomnia without immediately knowing it. For most cases, insomnia could be from spending too much time online and engaging in activities that stimulate the brain; however, other cases are severe and require medical attention.
Anxieties and Mental Health
As your teenager gets to experience life and meet new people, anxieties may come about at this time. The most common triggers for night-time anxieties are socialisation, rejection, and other common fears.
Nightmares may arise from such anxieties making y our teenager avoid sleep. If nightmares become a severe problem for your teen, encourage them to see a therapist.
Has your teenager been diagnosed with ADHD?
Children with ADHD are likely to experience sleep problems, like shorter sleep time, difficulty falling asleep, and they are at a higher risk of developing severe sleep disorders. This problem can begin as early as childhood through to puberty. Many of such children experience restless sleep with several night-time awakenings, which leads to difficulty in waking up and it causes enormous daytime sleepiness! Most of the symptoms that characterise this disorder are similar to the more general symptoms of sleep deprivation.
Seek Medical Help
Once you concluded that your teenager has concerning behavioural changes owing to their sleep deprivation, see your GP for diagnosis. Likely, the doctor will examine your teenager's overall health and question sleep patterns.
Hopefully they will be able to help reset your teenager's body clock and to attain a regular sleep pattern!
This should be a noticeable change. Encourage your teenager to allocate time accordingly during the day so that at night, the only thing left to do is relax and sleep. Lifestyle changes should touch on social media times, gaming times, TV/entertainment times, and any other activity that disrupts their priorities like school and family bonding time.
There is one thing that you may not have realised can help play a part in improving sleep: food. Some foods - those that are 'aggressive' - contain lots of sugar, caffeine, are too heavy or too watery - can disrupt sleep and wake your teenagers up at night, or even stop them falling asleep to start with. These should be avoided in the run-up to bed.
Consider over the counter, natural sleeping aids sleeping aids such as our Dream Spray Rainbows, a natural pillow spray for children and teenagers to help promote a sleep-inducing environment that relaxes and calms the body and mind.
There's no need to worry too much about your teenager's lack of sleep. Encourage a lifestyle change and watch your teenager improve their sleeping habits!
Read more: Do teenagers need more sleep?