Every teen has trouble sleeping now and then, and the culprit is usually stress or misalignment of their sleep pattern. Insomnia means difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, and it is a very common problem for adults. It is also one of the more common forms of sleep disorder in adolescents. Most people have secondary insomnia, meaning it is caused by some other condition. Primary insomnia is a disorder all by itself and is usually ongoing.
Signs and Symptoms
Having insomnia can cause all kinds of problems during the day, including extreme sleepiness, lack of energy, depression, irritability, trouble paying attention and learning problems. Secondary insomnia can be caused by:
- Technology (cell phones, texting, video games, computer and television usage)
- An illness or chronic pain
- Medication side effects
- Caffeine, tobacco or alcohol
- Another sleep disorder, such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea
- A poor sleep environment
- A change in sleep routine
Insomnia can be mild or severe. Chronic insomnia means it last a long period of time (at least three nights a week for more than a month).
Diagnoses and Treatment
Secondary insomnia often resolves on its own when the cause has been eliminated. For example, when your child stops taking a certain medication, avoids watching TV, playing video games or ceases computer (any technology) related activities at least 30 minutes prior to bed-time.
Because sleep deprivation and depression have a number of symptoms in common, a medical professional should evaluate any youth with sleep problems to make sure they are not suffering from depression. A medical professional or sleep specialist can rule out underlying causes (substance abuse, depression, or another illness or disorder) and treat primary insomnia if the cause is unclear.
Health care professionals may treat chronic insomnia with sedatives or antidepressants, along with behavioral techniques to promote regular sleep.