Teenagers are basically nocturnal creatures. The world sleeps when they are awake and vice versa. This behavioural pattern has a real biological cause. Puberty changes an adolescent's internal clock (that influences sleep cycles and hormonal changes) - thus delaying the time he starts feeling sleepy by approximately two hours. This phenomenon is medically termed delayed sleep phase syndrome. Although it's quite common, delayed sleep phase syndrome doesn't affect every teen. Staying up late to study or partying with friends can disrupt the adolescent's internal clock even more.
A teenager needs about nine hours of sleep every night in order to maintain optimal daytime alertness. But only 15 percent actually sleep that amount regularly, rest usually sleep six hours, or even less. Part-time jobs, tuition, homework, school activities and friends are prioritized. Sleep deprivation can undermine teen health.
Recent findings suggest that adolescent sleep problems are often associated with psycho-pathologies such as depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Changes in the body clock aren't the only reason teens lose sleep, sleep quality is often disrupted because of:
A thorough behavioural history may unleash a range of neuro issues affecting sleep, including separation anxiety and attention-deficit disorder. Neurologically based disorders of hyper-somnolence often have their onset in adolescence and can have a profound impact on a young person's academic and social functioning. Such disorders usually go unrecognized and can cause the perception that the teen is lazy, unmotivated, or learning-disabled. At times, it can be because of genetic factors also.
Most teens suffer from nightmares occasionally, but frequent nightmares can disrupt sleep patterns. Triggering factors of nightmares include certain medications, smoking, drugs, or alcohol; emotional stress or anxiety. Sleep deprivation can also be a cause, that is it becomes a vicious circle.
Other causes which can lead to sleep problems in teens and require medical attention are:
Most commonly occurs in obese teens. Also leads to mood swings, inattentiveness and hyperactivity.
This condition causes a creepy sensation in the legs immediately before bedtime. Associated with iron deficiencies during childhood.
Most teens need a little effort to adjust their schedules and get the right amount of sleep. But if the problem persists and becomes out of control, it's best to seek medical help.