Tag: screen time

Understanding and Treating Teen Sleep Problems

Do your kids have to get up too early because school starts too early?
Do your kids have to get up too early because school starts too early?

Parents often ask for help getting their kids to fall sleep and then stay asleep all night.

At least they do when they are little.

Teens often have trouble sleeping too though, but parents often don’t recognize these sleep problems and might not think to ask for help. They do likely see some of the issues that can be caused by a poor night’s sleep though, which can include irritability, sadness, a poor attention span, and hyperactivity, etc.

Why Teens Don’t Sleep Well

From being over-scheduled and having to get up early for school to staying up late on a screen, there are many reasons why your teen might not be sleeping well.

There are also many different types of sleep problems.

To understand what is causing your child’s sleep problems, ask yourself these questions and share the answers with your pediatrician:

  • Does your teen sleep at least 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours each night?
  • Does your teen have trouble falling asleep or does he just wake up a lot in the middle of the night? Or does your teen seem to sleep enough, but is still always tired?
  • Does your teen snore loudly at night – a sign of obstructive sleep apnea?
  • Is your teen taking any medications that could cause insomnia, such as for ADHD (stimulant) or allergies (decongestant)?
  • Does your teen have poorly controlled allergies, asthma (late night coughing), eczema (frequent itching keeping him awake), or reflux?
  • Is your teen drinking any caffeine in the afternoon or evening?
  • Do you think that your teen is depressed or has anxiety, either of which could cause problems sleeping?
  • Have you noticed any symptoms of restless leg syndrome, including a strong urge to move his legs when he is sitting or lying down?
  • Does your teen have too much homework and is staying up late trying to get it all done?
  • What does your teen do just before going to sleep?
  • Does your teen fall asleep easier when he goes to bed much later than his typical bedtime or does he still have trouble falling asleep?
  • Are your teen’s sleep problems new?

And perhaps most importantly, what is your teen’s daily sleep schedule like? What time does he go to sleep and wake up, including weekends, and does he typically take a nap?

Treatments for Teen Sleep Problems

In addition to treating any underlining medical issues that might be causing your teen to have trouble sleeping, it will likely help if your teen learns about sleep hygiene and:

  • goes to bed and wakes up at about the same time each day, instead of trying to catch up on “lost sleep” on the weekends
  • keeps his room bright in the morning (let in the sunshine) and dark at night
  • avoids taking naps, or at least naps that are longer than about 30 to 45 minutes
  • avoids caffeine
  • is physically active for at least one hour each day
  • doesn’t eat a lot just before going to bed
  • turns off all screens (phone, TV, computer, video games, etc.) about 30 minutes before going to sleep
  • doesn’t get in bed until he is actually ready to go to sleep, which means not watching TV, reading, or doing anything else on his bed
  • gets out of bed if he doesn’t fall asleep after 10 to 15 minutes and reads a few pages of a book, before trying to go to sleep again

Did that work?

If you teen is still having sleep problems, encourage them to try some basic relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and deep breathing or abdominal breathing. You do them at bedtime and again if you wake up in the middle of the night.

I especially like the idea of guided imagery for teens, as they can focus on something they like to do, whether it is building a sandcastle on the beach, or going horseback riding, surfing, hiking, or playing baseball, etc. They should focus on the details of the story they make up, coming back to it if their mind wanders, and hopefully they fall asleep as they get caught up in it.

With the deep breathing technique, they slowly breath in through their nose and out through their mouth. They can hold their breath for a few seconds or breath into their abdomen too (abdominal breathing).

Progressive muscle relaxation is another technique that might help your child relax at bedtime. They simply tense and then relax each muscle group of their body, one at a time, starting with their toes and working their way up. If they make it up to their forehead and aren’t asleep, then they should work their way down, perhaps doing 3 to 5 repetitions for each muscle group,  or try another technique.

And be sure to talk to your pediatrician if your teen continues to struggle with sleep problems.

What To Know About Teen Sleep Problems

Although teen sleep problems are common, they can cause serious daytime issues for your teenager, which makes it important to learn about good sleep hygiene and that help is available from your pediatrician.

For More Information on Teen Sleep Problems

Treating Hard to Control Obesity

Children aren’t just little adults, even big or overweight children.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising that obesity treatments might be different for children.

Childhood Obesity Treatments

The Let's Go! 5-2-1-0 message can help keep your kids at a healthy weight.
The Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 message can help keep your kids at a healthy weight.

Most people know, even if they can’t get motivated to follow, basic treatments for obesity. They include eating and drinking fewer calories and being more active.

How are these treatments different for kids?

Kids are still growing, so calories shouldn’t usually be overly restricted. So we more often talk about healthy diets instead of dieting.

Remember that the goal for overweight and obese children and teens is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development.

CDC Tips for Parents – Ideas to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight

Treating Hard to Control Obesity

What do you do if your child continues to gain too much weight or just can’t seem to lose any weight despite trying?

Ask yourself these questions and bring the answers to your pediatrician:

  • Are other family members overweight?
  • Is your child physically active for at least one hour a day?
  • Does your child drink non-diet soda, fruit juice, or sweet tea each day?
  • How much milk and water does your child drink each day?
  • Do you eat out with your child one or more times each week?
  • Does your child get more than one to two hours of screen time each day?
  • Does your child have a TV and/or computer in their room?
  • Does your child frequently eat meals and snacks while watching TV?
  • How many fruits and vegetables does your child eat each day?
  • Do your child’s portion sizes at meal times resemble an adult portion size?
  • Does your child frequently get seconds at meal times?
  • What does your child eat at snack times?
  • How many snacks does your child eat each day?
  • How often does your family eat dinner together?
  • Are you waiting for your child to “grow into” his weight?
  • If physically active, what activities does your child do?
  • Do you know about how many calories your child should be getting each day?
  • Are you expecting a quick fix and for your child to lose weight quickly?

And perhaps most importantly, do you know why your child is overweight? If you don’t, or if you don’t really believe that he or she is overweight, then you will have a hard time helping get to a healthier weight.

A registered dietician can help teach you and your child more about healthy eating.

What To Know About Treating Hard to Control Obesity

Getting to a healthy weight is rarely easy, but there is help for kids who are overweight and with hard to control obesity.

For More Information About Treating Hard to Control Obesity