Contributed by – Preksha Buttan
You must have noticed that staying up till late hours of the night has kind of become a trend amongst teenagers. Your child can also be following this trend. Although you can blame today’s lifestyle for this habit, but puberty is also a cause. No matter what excuse your child may give you for not sleeping on-time, sleeplessness that comes with it can have a major impact on their physical health. Thus, understanding the reason behind why teenagers find it hard to sleep on time may help you to save your child from developing health issues.
Reasons that might cause Sleep Disorders in Teenagers
Puberty is the time when the child’s body undergoes a lot of changes. Girls and boys experience it differently. Along with other changes that happen, a shift happens in circadian rhythms, which is the time when the body makes you sleepy. Before puberty, if your child was used to sleep around 9 pm then after puberty, due to this shift, he or she might feel sleepy a couple hours later. This delay in sleep does not mean that less sleep is required. For proper brain function, an average of 9 hours of sleep is still needed by your child. But since most schools start early, it is impossible for teens to get complete sleep. Therefore, they end up feeling sleepy during the day.
A lot is expected from teens. After a long day at school, once your child gets back home he or she must have to complete the homework and attend tuition classes. Sometimes, schools offer sports and departmental activities which students can participate in and are required to stay back. They need some time with their friends as well. After all this, spending time on social media platforms and bingeing on video streaming platforms series has also become a daily need. Your child might find it hard to balance all these activities while not compromising on anything. Eventually, it is their sleep cycle that gets affected. To compensate for it, teens often sleep in for long hours on weekends which disrupt their sleep cycle even more.
Since technology is embedded in our lives, you must be worried about the screen time of your child and its impact on them. Although the psychological impact of screen time is actively researched, as a parent you have to make sure how your child is reacting to it. These days, online games and web series have made us and the children glued to the screen. If your child, instead of sleeping, is watching movies and playing games in bed then it will definitely impact their sleep pattern and also the quality of the sleep they get. However, it is not clear how much screen time is healthy, but its impact on eyes and sleep is pretty much evident.
Common Sleep Disorders in Teens
A lot of things in a teen’s life can lead to insomnia; however, stress is the most common. For your teen, it can get tricky to deal with all the activities and live up to expectations. As a result, they will get stressed which will further impact their physical health. Physical discomfort and emotional troubles like can also become a cause of insomnia in teens. If insomnia lasts for more than a month then medical help is needed. Insomnia can also be a result of certain medication or substance abuse. Whichever the case may be professional advice from a doctor or therapist can help.
Nightmares are common. Due to them your child may wake up in the middle of the night and might find it hard to go back to sleep again. However, if your child is continuously having a nightmare for a long time, then you need to look into it. Generally, stress and anxiety cause them. But, emotional disturbances such as moving, death or fights can also act as a trigger. Visions seen in such nightmare may seem absolutely unrelated to reality, but they definitely are connected. Talking to your child about their school, friends and social life might help. Otherwise, visiting a counsellor or psychotherapist is necessary.
Sleepwalking may run in the families. It happens most often when the child is sick or stressed. Sleepwalkers do not sleepwalk every night and do not remember their sleepwalking. They often go back to bed on their own. However, sometimes a little help is needed moving around obstacles. If your child is a sleepwalker, then you need to be a little careful to keep them from hurting themselves while walking. Do not try to wake them up as it can startle them. Simply guide your child back to the bed.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder which causes irregular breathing while sleeping. If your kid has enlarged tonsils or adenoids then he or she is at risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Breathing will stop and start at various intervals. As a result of this, there will not be sufficient flow of oxygen in the body which can further lead to severe health conditions. If your child is sleepy all day and snores loudly while sleeping, then proper treatment is recommended to solve the situation and prevent serious complications.
PLMD and RLS
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) or Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) are common sleep disorders amongst teens. In PLMD, your child can have involuntary twitch or jerks while in sleep. And in RLS, your teen will have burning, tingling, itching or cramping sensation in their limbs. These movements of legs and arms can disrupt your child’s sleep at night and they will be tired throughout the day. Your doctor can help in treating these conditions. Sometimes, treating iron deficiencies also helps.
Helping Teens With Sleep Disorders
- Help your child establish a bed and wake time. Also, make sure that they stick to it. This time should be close to the bed and wake time on weekends. Following a consistent sleep schedule will help your child’s body to get in sync with this pattern and they will find it easier to fall asleep and wake up on the fixed time.
- When the time to bed is near, make sure that your child does not watch movies or play video games. Instead, engage them in calming habits like reading a book or making a journal. Even a bath before bedtime can help their body to relax.
- Make your child’s room is appropriate for a good sleep. Make it cool, quiet and dark. Remove any kind of distractions like games, TV, computer or mobile phone.
- Soda, caffeine and nicotine can also make it hard for your child to fall asleep. So make sure that consumption of such food is minimal and absolutely not close to the bedtime.
- If even after getting a proper good night sleep, your child is tired and sleepy during the day then consulting a doctor is recommended. Since this tiredness can also be a cause of other health condition, your doctor will help in identifying them and giving proper treatment.
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