Adolescent insomnia poses a whole set of unique health risks to our young. What is adolescent insomnia? AI is defined as inadequate sleep needs based on misaligned circadian rhythms. The reasons for adolescent insomnia are more complex because they include puberty.
#1. Puberty has been shown to slow the “Sleep drive” which means that teenagers start to feel more alert later at night. They want to say up till after 11:00 PM. But, that doesn’t stop their cellphone alarms from going off early in the morning.
#2. Early alarm clocks shorten their sleep.
#3. External stresses like homework overload
#4. Too much social media interfacing and or excessive late-night electronic phone use. Fact: electronic devices used just before bedtime are problematic because LEDs emit much more blue light than old fashioned white incandescent or fluorescent bulbs hence have a greater impact on youthful biological clocks.
#5. Fold in too much daytime caffeine and you have the playbook for adolescent insomnia.
It’s no secret that shortened sleep leads to shortened attention span, which leads to academic underachievement, which can lead to obesity, cardio-metabolic dysfunction, erratic moods, which can lead to alcohol and substance abuse which can lead to car crashes, occupational injuries, and even sports-related injuries.
What to do? A number of promising measures have been proposed to reduce adolescent sleep loss.
#1. Sleep education.
#2. Later school start times.
#3. As teen-age melatonin levels rise later at night than in adults and children encourage your teen to dim the lights as bedtime approaches. Inversely, encourage them to hit the bright light ASAP in the morning. The sooner the direct light hits the pineal gland through the eyeball, the better.
#4. It is critical that teens maintain a regular restorative sleep schedule that cements consistent circadian rhythms.