Most teens don’t get
enough sleep, usually
because their schedules
are overloaded or they spend too much time
texting or chatting with friends until the wee
hours of the morning. Other teens try to go to
sleep early, but instead of getting much-needed
rest, they lie awake for hours.
Over time, nights of missed sleep (whether
they’re caused by a sleep disorder or simply not
scheduling enough time for the necessary ZZZs)
can build into a sleep deficit (or sleep debt ).
Teens with a sleep deficit can’t concentrate,
study, or work effectively. They also can have
emotional problems, like depression.
Lots of us have insomnia (trouble falling or
staying asleep). The most common cause of
insomnia is stress. But all sorts of things can
lead to insomnia, including physical discomfort
(the stuffy nose of a cold or the pain of a
headache, for example), emotional troubles (like
family problems or relationship difficulties), and
even an uncomfortable sleeping environment (a
room that’s too hot, cold, bright, or noisy).
It’s common for teenagers to have insomnia
from time to time. But if insomnia lasts for a
month or longer with no relief, doctors call it
chronic. Chronic insomnia can be caused by a
number of different problems, including medical
conditions, mental-health problems, medication
side effects, or substance abuse. Many teens
with chronic insomnia can be helped by a doctor,
therapist, or other counselor.
For some teens, worrying about the insomnia can
make it worse. A brief period of insomnia can
build into something longer lasting when a teen
becomes anxious about not sleeping or worried
about feeling tired the next day. Doctors call this