Teenage insomnia is a condition which affects the sleep patterns of teenagers. Insomnia is generally hallmarked by an inability to fall or stay asleep. Teens have a unique set of biological and external circumstances related to puberty, including hormonal surges, school pressures, emerging sexual feelings, and the building of social relationships. The prospect of being out on their own and living separate from their families can also cause anxiety and insomnia in some teens.
There are many potential causes and aggravating factors for teenage insomnia. First of all, many teen do not produce enough of the hormone melatonin during the early evening hours as adults and young children do, so it is harder for them to become relaxed enough for sleep until much later at night. This is in part due to the hormonal changes and imbalances that become quite common during adolescents.
Adding to the causes of teenage insomnia is the typical diet teens have. Many drink caffeine- and sugar-filled sodas several times a day. This can easily make falling asleep difficult. Teens also may not get enough exercise during the day, and doing half an hour of cardiovascular exercise may help promote better sleep by reducing stress and releasing endorphins into the bloodstream.
Stress is a common factor in teenage insomnia, and can lead to not only trouble falling asleep, but also to difficulties staying asleep. Worry can be caused by school stresses, extracurricular activities, friendships, and other relationships. Many teens also feel anxiety about what they will do with their lives after high school graduation, and getting into a good college may be causing stress.
Parents should encourage their teens to discuss any problems they are having with them or with a school guidance counselor. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, and making organized and well thought-out plans may also help. Teachers and school advisers are an invaluable resource in helping students discovery their talents and finding ways to use them in everyday life. Teens may also benefit from learning meditating techniques, and using artistic forms of self-expression, such as creative writing or painting.
If teenage insomnia and anxiety become a real problem, or the teen becomes withdrawn, depressed, suffers from panic attacks, or has suicidal thoughts of feelings, intervention may be necessary. Speaking with a licensed counselor or therapist may be a good option, and medication may be needed. If bullying or drug use is a problem, these issues should be addressed right away to prevent them from escalating.