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Chicken Or The Egg: Is Your Teen Not Sleeping Due To Stress, Or Stressed Due To Not Sleeping?

It’s pretty common for teens, and adults, to have trouble sleeping from time to time. However, it shouldn’t be chronic.

If your teen regularly struggles with sleeping enough even though they’re going to bed on time and trying to get enough rest, consider bringing them to a doctor. Some sleep problems can be caused by medical conditions or by mental health problems and require treatment.

If your teen son is missing out on sleep due to stress or other mental health problems, he may benefit from a therapeutic boarding school for troubled boys.

What happens when teens don’t sleep enough?

Consistently not getting enough sleep can lead to a “sleep deficit.” Teens experiencing a sleep deficit have difficulty concentrating on their work and can begin to develop emotional problems related to their lack of sleep. If they are unable to go through each day at full capacity, they can create problems related to stress, anxiety, and depression.

If your teen is not getting enough sleep each night, you must address the root cause. It could be as simple as setting a clear schedule for daily activities that includes an early bedtime.

However, there may be bigger issues at play that require professional intervention.

Why don’t teens sleep enough?

For teens who have trouble sleeping, there could be a few things contributing to their sleep problems.

Not enough time

For starters, teenagers between the ages of 13-18 should get approximately 8-10 hours of sleep each day. Between school, homework, extracurricular activities, and home life, most teens don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each day. That means that they go into each school day tired and underperforming.

If your teen is not getting enough sleep because they don’t have enough time for all of their daily activities, you may need to cut some of their activities. Otherwise, they might need help developing time management skills to help them get everything done in time for bed.

Talk through your teen’s schedule with them to see what can be adjusted to allow enough time for rest.

Illness or Injury

It’s common for people of all ages to experience bouts of insomnia when they are not feeling well. Whether from the discomfort of the ailment or a side effect of a medication, it can be tough to get enough rest when you’re sick or hurting.

Unless your teen has a chronic illness or injury, though, this sort of trouble sleeping should be temporary.

Medical condition

There are a few medical conditions that can result in teens not sleeping enough. Some of these conditions include:

  1. Chronic illness or injury

  2. Narcolepsy

  3. Restless Leg Syndrome

  4. Sleep apnea

  5. Acid reflux (heartburn)

  6. “Night Owl” syndrome (an inability to fall asleep early)

If you suspect that your teen may be affected by one of these medical conditions, bring them to a doctor for evaluation. There are numerous treatments and medications that can help correct these problems and help your teen get more sleep.

Mental health problems

Teens who struggle with mental health problems may also have trouble sleeping. Some common mental health problems that can cause insomnia include:

  1. Stress

  2. Anxiety

  3. Depression

  4. Nightmares

  5. Substance abuse

Many of the mental health problems that cause insomnia also compound one another. For example, under a lot of stress, teens are more likely to experience nightmares that keep them up. Then the stress from not being able to sleep compounds and leads to more nightmares.

Similarly, teens who struggle with anxiety at school can be kept up by their racing thoughts, and the continual lack of sleep can lead to depression.

How to help your son if they aren’t sleeping

If you suspect that your teen is not sleeping due to stress or another mental health problem, get help from a trained therapist. Unfortunately for many teens, stress from school and home life can significantly impact their ability to get truly restful sleep.

If your teen son is caught in a cycle of not sleeping due to stress then being stressed due to not sleeping, you need to help him break the cycle. By attending a therapeutic boarding school, teens can escape their day-to-day life for a little while and develop new coping skills to overcome stress and anxiety.

At Sundance Canyon Academy, our students still attend class and receive high school credit while learning to develop healthy sleeping habits and overcoming their mental health struggles.

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