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|Quick reference medical handouts used
by Pediatric offices
Is your teen having trouble sleeping at night?
Please title this page. (Page 7)
One would think that teenagers have enough to deal with without having
sleep problems too. Yet many teenagers suffer from a variety of sleep disorders,
many of which are exacerbated by early-morning school schedules and late
night social lives.
Not being able to fall asleep after going to bed at night, or even
waking up after falling asleep or waking up too early in the morning, is
usually referred to as INSOMNIA. The causes of insomnia are many and can
be either minor or be a symptom of something more serious.
In teenagers insomnia is so frequent that it is almost "normal."
For some reason teens fall asleep later than they did as children.
For example, if a child was used to going to bed at 8 PM, a teen probably
is not ready for sleep until l0:00 or l1:00pm (No wonder so many teenagers
complain of not being able to fall asleep, and then feeling tired at school
the next morning)
The most common cause of insomnia, other that just being a teenager,
is stress. Many teenagers have anxiety about a lot of things going on in
their lives. For example, family problems, worrying about being popular with
friends, fear of flunking a subject, and a bad social experience can all
cause trouble with sleep. A schedule that's just too hectic and busy can
cause difficulty in falling asleep. Insomnia with early morning wakening
is one of the most common features of depression in teenagers. Therefore,
a teen with insomnia should be evaluated by their physician to make sure
eveything is okay.
Stimulants such as caffeine from coffee, tea, chocolate or
colas can interfere with sleep for many hours after consumption. Sleep
can be interrupted either by making it difficult to fall asleep or by wakening
later in the night. Similarly nicotine is also a stimulant and can disturb
sleep. Some medicines including tablets used to treat asthma and weight
loss have stimulant effects.
Should your teen find him or herself in bed turning and tossing -
it is best to sit up, go into another room, and read something that might
make them may sleepy (like geometry!), and then try to go to sleep when they
Here are some helpful hints for those night owl teens who suffer
Go to bed at the same time each day 7 days a week
A light bedtime snack can promote sleep; hunger is a sleep disrupter
Set the alarm and get up at the same time every morning, regardless
of how much they have slept through the night..
Have your teen spend 20 minutes in a hot tub or shower a few hours
before going to bed
Avoid napping during the daytime
Encourage your teen to get regular exercise each day in the late afternoon
or early evening but not within 3 hours of going to sleep
Keep the temperature in their bedroom comfortable.
Keep their bedroom quiet when sleeping.
Keep their bedroom dark . Avoid illuminated bedroom clocks
Suggest your teen use their bed only for sleeping. They should not
read, watch television, or eat in bed
They should take medicines only as directed. by their physician
Avoid engaging in stimulating activity just before bed. Examples include
playing a competitive game of cards or watching an exciting program on
Avoid caffeine. Remember that caffeine is present in chocolate, as
well as regular coffee or tea, and caffeinated sodas.
Suggest to your teen that they should not lie in bed awake for more
than half an hour. Instead, get up, move to another room, do some quiet activity
(like reviewing geometry) , then return to bed when they are sleepy. They
should do this as many times in a night as necessary. The goal is to associate
bed with falling asleep easily.
Remind your teen that for best results, these tips should be tried
over a period of time. Usually, they will need two to four weeks to see the
As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as
medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your childs pediatrician.
Please read our full disclaimer.