Tag: sleep apnea

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 Bedwetting

All kids wet the bed when they are younger.

When do they stop?

Bedwetting Basics

Although parents typically understand that their kids will become potty trained sometime around age three years, they often have unrealistic expectations for when they will stop wetting at night.

So the first thing to understand about bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) is that it is consider a normal part of development to continue to wet the bed up until about age six years. That’s the age when most kids can stay dry all night.

But even after age six years, many kids still wet the bed. In fact, at age eight years, up to eight percent of kids still wet the bed. Fortunately, there is a 15% chance that these kids will outgrow their bedwetting each year.

Treating Bedwetting

In addition to waiting it out, classic treatments for bedwetting often include:

  • protecting the mattress from getting wet by using a plastic cover under the sheets
  • make wearing pull-ups seem routine and not a punishment
  • limiting the amount of fluids your child drinks in the evening
  • severely limiting the amount of fluids your child drinks right before bed
  • making sure your child goes to the bathroom right before going to bed
  • sticking to a good bedtime routine

Most importantly, make sure that your child knows that it is not his or her fault that they wet at night. Staying dry at night is just another developmental milestone that kids have to reach. Unfortunately, like many milestones, you will likely have to wait until your child reaches this one and stops wetting at night.

Usually bedwetting stops by puberty.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

If your child is getting older and is tired of waiting, especially if he is approaching the age of sleepovers or overnight camping trips, there are  other options to treat bedwetting, including the use of bedwetting alarms and prescription medicines, like DDAVP (desmopressin) tablets.

DDAVP can be an especially good option for sleepovers, etc., as it only works to stop wetting on the nights your child takes it. It is a synthetic version of a natural hormone, antidiuretic hormone (ADH), that normally reduces urine volume at night in our bodies.

Treating Hard to Control Bedwetting

Why is your child continuing to wet the bed at night?

Maybe he is just a deep sleeper. Maybe he has a small bladder. Maybe bedwetting runs in the family and she will just have to outgrow it, like other family members have.

Although most children eventually outgrow wetting the bed, if you think your child’s bedwetting should have already stopped, you should ask yourself these questions and share the answers with your pediatrician:

  • Has your child ever been dry at night for more than a few weeks or months or has he always wet the bed?
  • If the bedwetting is a new issue, have there been any changes in your child’s life?
  • Is your child constipated?
  • Is your child losing weight?
  • Does your child wet during the day?
  • Does your child avoid going to the bathroom during the day, holding their urine for long periods of time (voiding dysfunction)?
  • Is your child drinking any caffeine during the day?
  • Does your child snore very loudly at night? Some people think that bedwetting can be associated with sleep apnea.
  • Have you tried waking your child an hour or two after he has gone to sleep and having him go to the bathroom?
  • Are you relying on alternative treatments for bedwetting, such as hypnosis, psychotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, or medicinal herbs, which have been proven to not work?
  • Have your tried using a star chart to encourage and reward nights that she stays dry?
  • Although they only work half the time, did you try using a bedwetting alarm?
  • Did you try DDAVP (desmopressin), thinking it would cure your child’s bedwetting, but not understanding your child would likely wet again once they stopped taking it?

A pediatric urologist can also be helpful for your child with hard to control bedwetting.

What To Know About Treating Hard to Control Bedwetting

Although bedwetting can be hard to control, it is easier if your child understands that it is not their fault and that they will almost certainly eventually outgrow it and stay dry at night.

More Information About Treating Hard to Control Bedwetting