How to Handle Adolescent Sleep Problems during Puberty

Learn how to handle adolescent sleep problems from Jennifer Wider, M.D. in this Howcast video.

So it’s Saturday morning, you’re sound asleep and mom is calling "wake up, wake up." and you glass at the clock, you don’t even realize it’s already noon. She’s screaming at you that you’re missing a beautiful day. Your dad finally comes in and pulls the covers off, what’s going on?

You need more sleep during puberty and that’s just the way it is. The hormones that are causing all those other changes are also changing your sleep cycle. One, your body needs more sleep. Two, your sleep cycle starts to shift a little bit. So you may start to feel tired later. You go to bed 11 ‘o clock, 12 ‘o clock, even if you go to bed at 10 you may be rolling around because your sleep cycle changes. But you need to wake up earlier in the morning, so what happens?

We have legions of middle schoolers running around, walking around in sleep deprived states a lot like zombies. You need roughly eight to ten hours of sleep at your age and many times you’re not getting it because you’re burning the candle at both ends, and this is a problem, because sleep deprivation causes irritability, it cause mood swings, it makes your more stressed out, it makes you more susceptible to colds, it lowers you immunity.

So the issue is you want to try to get as much sleep as possible. So here are some tips on getting a good night sleep. One, stick to a routine. As hard as this is, you want to go to bed at the same time and wake up roughly the same time every single day including the weekend. Two, skip those peppermint mochas at night. Especially after 3 PM. Cut your caffeine intake off. Chocolate, tea, caffeine can keep you tossing and turning at night. Try not to do it after 3 PM.

Another good thing to do is turn your room into a girl or a boy cave. Make it dark, don’t play Angry Birds, don’t want crazy news stories, don’t watch the clock. If you’re up 1:35 and it’s 1:36, 1:37. Don’t sit there and watch the clock. It’s something call anticipatory anxiety which can completely stress you out. Get up out of bed, read a magazine article, do something relaxing, and then try again about a half hour later. Using those few tips, you’ll get a better night sleep, you’ll be productive the next day and you’ll feel a whole lot better. Try to get at least eight to ten hours of sleep if you can. Good luck, sweet dreams.