Does My Teenager Have Insomnia?
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder, which can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Teenagers usually experience changes in their circadian rhythm during adolescence. For this reason, they may have the urge to go to sleep later and wake up later than they once did. Although this change is normal, it can lead to a disruption in their sleep cycle, resulting in bouts of insomnia and trouble sleeping.
In addition to these changes, a teenager who is stressed or prone to anxiety may find it even harder to fall asleep. Fortunately, there are a variety of methods to help treat nighttime anxiety and insomnia.
What Causes Anxiety at Night For Teens?
The evening is one of the most common times for teens to experience anxiety. During a busy day, they may not have much time to think about their worries, but as soon as the day slows down, and they have less to do, anxiety can hit like a crashing wave.
Teens feel anxiety for a number of reasons—they may feel stressed about school, social relationships, or an upcoming event. Experiencing a stressful or traumatic event can also lead to increased levels of anxiety. It’s also important to realize that some teens will experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns without any discernible cause.
Regardless of what’s causing your teen’s anxiety, there are ways to help them feel better and sleep better. Here are 10 steps you can take to help your teen get a better night’s rest.
How to Help An Anxious Teenager Sleep
1. Make Their Bedroom Sleep-Friendly
Create a dark, comfortable space your teen feels safe in and can fully relax in. This may mean moving non-sleep activities, like homework, video games, and meals from the bed area. It can also mean turning off TVs and other electronics to ensure the room is dark and peaceful.
2. Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Teenagers need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night. So, for example, if they need to wake up for school at 7 each morning, they should try to get to sleep by 10 or 11 the night before. Establishing a consistent bedtime and wake-up schedule will help reset your child’s internal clock, making it easier for them to go to sleep and wake up each morning.
3. Create a Bedtime Routine
While they may not be children anymore, teens can still greatly benefit from a regular bedtime routine. This routine can be as simple as putting on pajamas, brushing their teeth and face, and saying goodnight. Establishing a routine like this will help your child’s brain cue the body that it’s time to sleep.
4. Avoid Screens Before Bed
Cell phones, TV screens, and video game devices, all emit blue light, which can make it harder for your brain to produce the melatonin it needs to fall asleep. To help your teen fall asleep easier, have them shut off these electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
5. Limit Caffeine
If your teenager drinks coffee, energy drinks, or soda, the caffeine in these beverages could easily be contributing to their nighttime anxiety. Encourage them to limit their caffeine intake to one beverage in the morning and cut out caffeine completely after 12 pm.
6. Avoid Long Naps and Sleeping in Late
Taking long naps and sleeping in late can affect your teenager’s sleep cycle, and can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Encourage your child to avoid naps that are longer than 30 minutes, and to wake up around the same time each day, even on weekends.
7. Journal Before Bed
It’s normal for most people to think back over the day as they lay in bed. However, for some, these thoughts can quickly become anxiety-inducing. If your teen has a lot on their mind, encourage them to make a habit of journaling in the evening before bed. This allows them to put their thoughts on paper so they can simply focus on relaxing and falling asleep.
8. Talk to Your Teen
If your teenager has been especially anxious lately, they might be dealing with an issue that you don’t know about. Have a conversation with your child and ask them if there’s anything specific that’s been causing them to feel anxious.
Teenagers can sometimes be hesitant to share personal details, especially if they’re not sure how you’ll react. Remind them that you care and want to help them feel better. When they’re ready to talk, you’ll be there for them.
9. Try Again Later
Ironically, struggling to fall asleep can actually lead to sleep anxiety. Let your teenager know that it’s okay for them to get up and do something else after 20-30 minutes of tossing and turning. The activity they do should be something quiet and mundane, like reading, doing a puzzle, or drawing. Once they feel sleepy, they can try going back to bed.
10. Don’t Stress
Instead of stressing about trying to fall asleep, encourage your child to simply focus on relaxing in bed. The best they can do is rest and wait for sleep to happen naturally. Worrying too much about trying to get to sleep will only make their anxiety worse.
Seeking Treatment For Teenage Anxiety
If your teenager regularly suffers from anxiety, it may be time to seek professional treatment. Even in mild cases, cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to help individuals reduce anxiety and deal with other mental health concerns.
If you’re worried about your teen’s mental health, reach out to the team at Options Family & Behavior Services. Our clinicians are trained to help adolescents address a wide range of mental health concerns and disorders. We’re the most trusted choice for teenager therapy near Minneapolis.
Call 952-564-3000 to learn more about our treatment services.