Sleep Disorders In Teens – 5 Causes And 10 Symptoms

Does your teenager feel like taking a nap often almost every day? Does she get tired frequently and find it difficult to concentrate? If you nodded along anxiously, your dear teen might be suffering from a sleep disorder. What can you do about them? How do you help her overcome them? Read our post and learn everything about sleep disorders in teens.

Teens And Sleep – Habits And Patterns:

Teenage years are a critical time for your child. Chances are, he will undergo a spurt in growth and development. Thus, proper sleep becomes critical to his growth. However, your teen may exhibit some discrepancies in his sleeping patterns, which can be a cause for concern.

Here are some common patterns and sleeping habits of teenagers that you may notice:

  • He sleeps less, sometimes less than 5-6 hours.
    • Once it is bed time, he spends time on the screen, completes school work, studies, listens to music, calls his friends, etc. He does everything except sleep.
  • The lack of sleep increases his lethargy, and he gets tired quite easily.
  • Teenage academic pressure can also affect your teen’s sleeping pattern. The extra stress can end up interfering and reducing his sleep time. Academic pressure is a common reason for sleep deprivation and inadequate hours of sleep in your teen.
    • Coffee helps many-a-teen concentrate on academic work. However, it is a stimulant that keeps the mind awake. Coffee has a long half-life and can lead to insomnia.

Types Of Sleep Disorders In Teens:

Some of the common sleep disorders that can affect teens include:

  • Insomnia: When your teen fails to get enough sleep throughout the day, he/she suffers from insomnia or sleep deprivation. Every individual requires a sufficient amount of sleep, to energize the body and keep it active. On an average, a teenager requires eight to nine hours of daily sleep. Failing to get a complete sleep may lead to several health disorders and the teen may suffer from the lack of concentration or fatigue (1).
  • Sleep apnea: Teenagers today are full of life with big dreams & ambitions. Overtime, missed night sleep can build sleep apnea in teens. Sleep apnea, or obstructive sleep apnea, is a common disorder in which a teen’s breathing is repeatedly restricted while sleeping due to blocked airways. Teens suffer from or gasp for breath after a gap in breathing, which may occur 30 times in an hour. Normal breathing then resumes with a choking sound or a loud snort (2).
  • Movement disorders such as restless leg syndrome
  • Snoring
  • Circadian rhythm disorders
  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleepwalking
  • Bedwetting

Common Problems That Affect Teens Due To A Lack Of Sleep:

No matter how many times we say it, sleep is extremely crucial. In case your teen doesn’t get enough sleep, here are some issues that can affect his health and behavior:

  • He may find it difficult to concentrate, learn and listen properly. A lack of sleep can also affect his problem-solving skills. Once the sleep deprivation sets in, he may even forget important information like someone’s name, a phone number, even a home phone number, school assignments, important dates and more.
  • He misplaces items and does not remember where he kept them.
  • Sleeping for fewer hours or not having enough sleep also makes your teen prone to acne breakouts. Teenage signals the onset of acne and the skin conditions can affect his confidence levels and depress him.
  • Sleep disturbance or lack of adequate sleep can make him irritable and unduly stressed. In such a situation, he may turn aggressive, sometimes without even realizing it. He yells at others, disrespects you and seems frustrated. He might get into potentially illegal and dangerous situations like using substances or drinking and driving.
  • The moodiness or inappropriate behavior may also continue in school, and he could start fights with others, be rude to the teachers and staff.
  • Sleep disorders in teens such as lack of proper hours of sleep disturbed sleep or the inability to fall asleep can lead to further health issues. It can cause health scares like heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, migraine and more.
  • Sleep deprivation can lead to eating disorders as well, and you may notice your teen’s eating habits going through a sudden change or turn extreme. He feels hungry at odd hours, or he eats less than or more than normal. It could be a case of emotional eating, where he may be trying to use food as a means of comfort and distraction. In such a case, he runs the risk of becoming obese. The other scenario is that he may turn anorexic and try to avoid meals at all times. He may even feel too tired to sit through an entire meal. He may start having body image issues and might even contract eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia. On the other hand, he could start depending on junk food, which can lead to all sorts of health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease.
  • Lack of sleep can most commonly result in depression. He may lose interest in his favorite activities. He will try and shirk company, or not meet friends and avoid socializing. He may even lose interest in eating and eat little.
  • If he has started driving, a lack of sleep could be serious and sometimes even a fatal condition. Most teen accidents that involve an automobile happen when a teen drives without paying full attention. Not being able to concentrate is a result of lack of sleep, and mixed with driving, it can have a disastrous result (2).

Causes Of Sleep Disorders In Teens:

Here we list some common causes of teen sleep disorders:

1. Hormonal Time Shift:

Sometimes, certain puberty hormones modify your teen’s sleep cycle by an hour or two and can lead to oversleeping for one or two hours. However, early morning classes or school affects her sleep and can cause chronic sleep deprivation.

2. Hectic After-School Activities:

Various after-school activities, such as sports, part-time work, homework, and social commitments, cut down a teen’s sleeping time and often lead to sleep disorder.

3. Leisure Activities:

Spending time at night watching television, surfing the web, playing computer games, and chatting can keep her awake for hours. Various leisure activities can hamper a teen’s sleep substantially.

4. Light Exposure:

Light ray cues the human brain to be awake. At night, lights from television, computers, laptops, and mobile devices prevent sufficient production of melatonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, which handles sleep.

5. Sleep Problems:

Certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, can adversely affect your teen’s sleep. (1)

Symptoms Of Sleep Disorders In Teens:

What are the signs of sleep disorders in teens? Here is a list of teenage sleep problems.

  1. Difficulty to have sound sleep at night or difficulty to sleep again after waking up during the night.
  1. Light, fragmented sleep.
  1. Fatigue during the daytime.
  1. Feeling sleepy during the day.
  1. Irritability during the day.
  1. Difficulty to stay awake while reading or watching television.
  1. Difficulty to concentrate.
  1. Facing trouble to control emotions.
  1. Having a nap several times daily.
  1. The need of caffeinated beverages to keep yourself awake. (2)
[ Read: Effective Relaxation Techniques For Teens ]

Treating Sleep Disorders In Teens:

Typically, a teen’s brain wants to sleep late at night and sleep late the next morning that is harmful to any teen’s health. So it is necessary to follow certain good practices to prevent and treat teenage sleep disorders.

  • Follow a relaxing bed routine. For instance, have a bath and drink warm milk before going to bed every night.
  • Keep your teen’s room dark at night. Lights that fall on the eyes affect a teen’s brain sleep cycle adversely. Advise your teen to avoid watching television at night, play video games, and surf web in dark hours since these activities release light that prevents them from falling asleep.
  • Tell her to avoid loud music at night as noise can hamper her sleep adversely. Let her use earplugs or eye shades if need be.
  • Follow a regular bedtime schedule.
  • Ask her to avoid napping during the day.
  • Avoid stressful activities at least four hours before going to the bed.
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing.
  • Avoid having substances containing caffeine, such as tea, coffee, diet pills, and soft drinks during the night. (3)

How To Ensure Proper Teenage Sleeping Habits:

As a parent, it is important for you to inculcate proper sleep habits in your teen. You may have taught him the importance of bedtime, but as your child enters his teens, the importance seems to diminish and bedtime fast becomes a thing of the past. It can become unmanageable to get your teen to go to sleep and if you are going through these motions, don’t give up just yet. Here, we list some routines or tips you can follow that will help him have adequate sleep and regulate his sleeping pattern:

  • Make sure that his bedtime routine is consistent each day, whether it is a weekday or a weekend. Try to make him go to bed and wake up at the same time each night and day.
  • Ensure that his bedroom or sleep area is comfortable, quiet and dark. Remove all the clutter like computer, TV, gaming consoles to a different part of the house. Keep the sleeping area only for sleeping.
  • Finish meals a few hours before bedtime so that he feels light and relaxed at the time of sleeping.

Hope you liked our post on teens and sleep. Make sure you follow the above tips to ensure better teen sleep. If your teenage sleep disorders persists, seek immediate medical attention. Does your teen suffer from any sleep disorders? Does he exhibit any of the symptoms we mention above? Have you taken him to visit a doctor yet? Tell us your story below.

Garima Singh

Garima is following her dream and now writes on various topics about health, fitness, food, lifestyle, technology, latest trend full-time. Her favorite quote:
"A beautiful face will age and a perfect body will change ,but a beautiful soul will always be beautiful.."

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