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Why Do Teens or Tweens Have Trouble Sleeping?

Sleep problems can keep some teens and tweens awake at night even when they want to sleep. Children who don't get enough sleep don’t do as well in school, feel moody, depressed, or have anxiety.

Most teens need 8-10 hours of sleep per night. You don't need to be a math whiz to figure out that if you wake up for school at 6 a.m, you'd have to go to bed at 10 p.m. to get enough sleep. But many teens have trouble falling asleep that early because their brains naturally work on later schedules.

During the teen years, the body's internal sleep clock is reset to fall asleep later at night and wake up later in the morning. This change happens because teen brains make the sleep hormone melatonin later at night than kids’ and adults’ brains do. So, teens and tweens don’t always have control about not being able to fall asleep.

This isn't the only reason kids lose sleep, though. Sometimes their sleeping environment isn’t conducive to them falling asleep. Here are the most common problems with their room that might be affecting their sleep:

  • Bright lights and the blue light from electronic devices

  • A room that’s too warm. The ideal temperature for sleep is 65 degrees – 68 degrees

  • The house being noisy when they are trying to fall asleep

  • Too many distractions in their rooms- tv’s, lap tops, gaming systems

Also, underlying anxiety can be a huge reason why a teen or tween could be having trouble with their sleep. When your child has problems with worry or anxiety, they often lie awake because their mind is racing. Sometimes the thoughts are directed toward something they are worried about. Other times, though, their thoughts can seem random. Either way, the child isn’t able to calm their thoughts enough to fall asleep.

As a parent, there are some things you can do to help your teen or tweens. First off, help them come up with a consistent sleep schedule. A consistent bed time and wake time can go a long way toward getting better sleep. Even if they aren’t able to get 8 hours, having a consistent sleep schedule can help your child feel more rested when they wake. It’s common for teens and tweens on weekends to stay up way later and wake up way later. While some kids can pull this off, lots of teens really struggle to get back on their regular schedule after the weekend is over. The recommendation is to not allow your child to deviate more than an hour or two on weekends.

If your teen or tween has anxiety or tends to worry a lot, work with your child to create the most relaxing environment possible. Make sure their room is very dark. Add some soothing smells and sounds, such as white noise or calming, soft music. Also make sure they are taking plenty of time to wind down before bed. Things like not being on their screens for 30 minutes before bed, taking a warm shower and even relaxing yoga can really help an anxious mind.

Troubles with sleep can be really frustrating for both kids and parents. But, once you have identified the main problems that are interfering with your child’s sleep and help your child come up with a plan to solve those problems- great sleep can be a reality for everyone.  

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