4 Possible Reasons Why Your Teen Can’t Sleep

It is recommended that teenagers get a minimum of 9 hours of sleep per night. If your teen needs to wake at 6am for school, they must hit the hay at 9pm to enjoy the right level of shuteye.

While some teens are happy to grab as much sleep as possible, others might miss the recommended amount of sleep due to texting their friends, watching TV, or studying. However, there could be other reasons behind their sleep deprivation. As their wellbeing will be your top priority, take a look at the four possible reasons why your teen can’t sleep.

Mental Health Issues

Mental health conditions can cause insomnia for teenagers. Your teen’s low mood, depression, anxious thoughts, or stress could keep them awake at night. If you suspect your child is struggling with a disorder, you must talk to your son or daughter about their thoughts and concerns.

If they are struggling with a mental health condition, help is at hand. A residential center can provide the right teenage depression treatment to support your child’s recovery, if needed. With professional help, your teen can get to the root cause of their depression or anxiety, which could stem from a hormonal imbalance, a traumatic event, an unhealthy lifestyle, or postpartum depression for teen mothers.


A teenager’s disrupted sleep could be due to restless leg syndrome (RLS) or periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). The uncontrollable movements cannot only irritate your teen, but they could interrupt their sleep.

If your child experiences tingling, cramping, itching, or burning in their limbs, they might have RLS, which will cause an urge to move their legs to ease their discomfort. However, PLMD can cause involuntary jerks and twitches that your teen cannot control, and they may even be unaware of the movements. If you suspect your teenager has RLS or PLMD, book an appointment with a doctor who may prescribe medication or treat an iron deficiency.


Frequent nightmares can cause a teen to wake at night, and the interrupted sleep pattern may cause fatigue and irritability the next day.

Common causes of nightmares include:

  • Emotional issues such as stress or anxiety
  • Medication side effects
  • The consumption of drugs or alcohol
  • Over-tiredness
  • Too much caffeine

If your teen is suffering from nightmares, you must introduce a bedtime schedule and ensure they don’t consume stimulants. Also, you may need to book an appointment with their doctor to discuss changing their medication, or they could benefit from talking to a counselor or therapist.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

Approximately 10% of teens struggle with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS), a circadian rhythm problem that can delay sleep by two hours or more. Teens struggling with DSPS often report difficulty falling asleep at socially acceptable times, and they might find it difficult to wake up once they do fall asleep.

If you suspect DSPS is the cause of their sleep deprivation, they might need to avoid mobile devices before bed, as the light exposure can interfere with their circadian rhythm.

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