While it’s not as crucial as it is during adolescence, it’s still very important for teenagers to get 8 ½ to 9 hours of sleep a night. Unfortunately, a recent study found that one-third of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16 experienced difficulty sleeping at least twice a week. Furthermore, 17 percent of that group was found to meet the criteria for clinical insomnia. Find out some of the reasons why teenagers are experiencing so many sleepless nights and what can be done about the situation.
Changing Circadian Rhythm
As children move into their teenage years, they undergo a number of physiological changes due to puberty. The most obvious physical changes include the growth of pubic hair and an increase in height, but subtle changes also occur. Teenagers experience a shift in their circadian rhythm which causes their bodies to produce melatonin later in the day. Consequently, kids who use to have no problem falling asleep in the early evening might be full of energy well into the night.
Increasing Academic Demands
The transition from middle school to high school can be difficult for some teens because of the academic demands placed upon them. Where they once had homework that only consumed an hour or so per night, they can now be saddled with a number of assignments that can take 3 to 4 hours to complete nightly. They will also have to deal with midterms and finals that will require extensive studying. The pressure of these new academic demands may cause your children to become emotionally overwhelmed. When that happens, there’s a good chance that their sleep will be negatively impacted.
More Extracurricular Activities
As teens grow older, they tend to engage in extracurricular activities that will consume a lot of their time and energy. These activities can include an after school job, joining a high school sports team, volunteer work or just socializing with their peers. While these activities can be beneficial in many ways, they can also lead teenagers to overextend themselves. Over time, all those extracurricular activities can cause your child to be fatigued, which will make it difficult for them to fall asleep.
Another reason your child might have difficulty sleeping is that they have contracted a sleep disorder. For instance, if your child is greatly overweight, they may be experiencing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea disrupts a person’s rest by causing them to wake up at irregular intervals while they are trying to sleep and is a condition commonly diagnosed in overweight children and adults. It’s also possible that your child is suffering from parasomnia, which causes the afflicted to experience unwanted movements, emotions and dreams during the different stages of sleep.
Ultimately, the only way to know precisely what’s causing a teenager’s insomnia is consultation with an experienced sleep specialist. If you’re concerned that your child is having difficulty sleeping, contact us today to set up an appointment. Dr. Shukla has the skills and experience to help your child get the rest they need.