Symptoms and Causes of Teen Sleep Deprivation

The symptoms of teen sleep deprivation are the same as those that occur in adults. They include muscle aches, dizziness, hallucinations, nausea, headaches, shaking, irritability, memory problems and yawning. Difficulty staying awake during class and sudden symptoms that are akin to attention deficit disorder (ADD) are some of the signs for parents and teachers to look for.

Generally speaking teenage sleep habits are not ideal. Most of us have stayed up late studying for an exam or finishing a project that we put off until the last minute. Self-discipline is the key to resolving those problems, but that comes with age. Many of us learn our lessons after only one or two sleepless nights.

Teen sleep deprivation symptoms can also be a sign of problems in the home, depression, behavioral problems, anxiety, stimulant abuse or simply bad habits. It helps when good habits are established early in a child’s life. But, it is no guarantee that there will be no teenage sleep issues. So, if you’re a parent, don’t blame yourself.

Rules can and should be enforced. Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep every night. If they have to get up at 7am to be in class, they need to be in bed, with the TV, computer, stereo and lights off, no later than 11pm. If they have trouble sleeping at night, encourage an after-school nap, before homework or social activities.

Teenage girl sleeping during dayPhoto: Beniamin Pop
Teenage girl sleeping during dayPhoto: Beniamin Pop

They don’t have to get the full 8-10 hours in one shot, but they should get most of them all together. Adult and teenage sleep studies have shown that it normally takes 30 minutes to fall asleep and it takes several hours to achieve a deep, restorative state

No parent likes to think about it, but sleep disturbances can actually be a symptom of substance abuse. Speed, meth, amphetamines, cocaine and even caffeine will keep anyone awake for hours, sometimes days at a time. When that person attempts to live up to their responsibilities, they often crash or use more drugs to keep up, which is of course dangerous.

Enforcing sleep rules can be difficult for parents. No one wants to fight with their kids about going to bed. Every parent has heard the line about how some friend’s parents let them do it. The best words of advice that I can give are to be strong and don’t give in. Teaching your teen good sleep hygiene will help keep them healthy for life.

Teen sleep deprivation symptoms should be evaluated by a physician, as they could be caused by an underlying illness. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the problem.

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