Being a teenager has never been easy, and things have only become more complicated for youngsters in the 21st century. Along with a spurt in growth hormones, adolescence brings along a host of issues related to sexuality, independence, identity, relationships, and mental health.
As they are at an essential stage in their growth and development, teenagers need more sleep than adults daily–about nine hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep each night.
Despite requiring more sleep, most teenagers are not able to get their daily dose of shut-eye due to many reasons. The onset of puberty leads to a natural shift in a teenager’s circadian rhythm and affects their sleep patterns.
Combined with a hectic school schedule and extracurricular activities, this could make it hard for teenagers to get the sleep they need. While sleep deprivation in teenagers is common, it can lead to multiple health and academic consequences.
If you are or know a teenager with a sleeping disorder, these nine natural and pharmaceutical remedies might help.
Melatonin promotes healthy sleep and helps to orient our circadian rhythm. The body naturally produces melatonin, and the levels of this “sleep hormone” in the blood are highest at night.
Melatonin supplements have been in use for years to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. It is generally safe for short-term use, and unlike with many other sleep medications, the chances of becoming dependent on melatonin supplements are relatively low.
Older children and teenagers suffering from sleep disorders may benefit from taking melatonin. However, it is not advisable to give melatonin to an adolescent without consulting a doctor.
Tryptophan is found in various foods and supplements. It promotes sound sleep quality and a better mood. Studies have proven that eating tryptophan-enriched foods improves sleep quality in adults.
Many protein-rich foods are naturally high in tryptophan, and it has been estimated that a typical American diet provides about 1 gram per day.
Taking tryptophan supplements helps people fall asleep quicker and enjoy better sleep quality.
People who suffer from sleep apnea; a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts; also benefit from tryptophan supplements. A tryptophan-rich diet is recommended for teenagers with sleep disorders.
3. Valerian Root
Valerian, often referred to as “nature’s Valium,” is a medicinal plant that has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for insomnia, stress, and headaches.
If your teenager is having problems getting enough sleep and you are skeptical about using sleeping pills, valerian root is an excellent option to consider. Herbal extracts made from the rhizome root of the valerian plant are available easily.
For treating insomnia, take 300 to 600 milligrams (mg) of valerian root 30 minutes to two hours before going to bed. You can also prepare a tea by soaking two to three grams of dried valerian root in a cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Lavender Essential Oil
One of the most popular essential oils used in aromatherapy, lavender essential oil, promotes relaxation, and is believed to relieve stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
According to a study published in Holistic Nursing Practice in 2018, lavender aromatherapy improved the quality and duration of sleep in elderly humans. Lavender essential oil is a gentle one and can be used by people of all age groups.
Take a bath with a few drops of lavender oil added before you go to sleep or spray a fine mist of water and lavender essential oil into the air in your bedroom. You can also dab a drop of the oil on your temples, wrists, or neck before bedtime.
One of seven essential macrominerals, magnesium plays a vital role in regulating blood pressure and supporting the immune system. Though magnesium deficiency is uncommon in otherwise healthy people, it can lead to a range of health complications, including insomnia.
One natural solution to improve your teenager’s sleep quality is to ensure that they eat a magnesium-rich diet. Since our bodies do not produce magnesium independently, we have to rely on our diets and supplements.
Magnesium, also a component in many laxatives, is easy to find in supplement form. Supplemental magnesium helps stabilize your mood and promotes better sleep quality in those who have insomnia.
Glycine is found primarily in protein-rich foods. Preliminary studies have shown that the amino acid might protect against certain cancers and improve memory function.
In addition to these benefits, glycine also helps improve sleep quality by having a calming effect on your brain. It is readily available in supplement form, and taking three grams of glycine before bed for two to four days enhances sleep quality, reduces daytime sleepiness, and improves cognition.
7. Sleep Medication
While sleep medication is generally not recommended for teenagers, their doctor might occasionally prescribe a drug if they suffer from a severe sleep disorder.
Ambien (zolpidem) and Sonata (zaleplon) are two of the most popular sleep medications available. Both are to be taken by mouth immediately before going to bed, and it takes around 20-30 minutes for them to start working.
While these medicines can help in the short run, teenagers shouldn’t take them regularly as they could be habit-forming.
One of the ancient medicinal herbs known to humans, chamomile has been used to treat various health issues for centuries. The plant extract contains apigenin, a chemical compound that induces sleepiness, and is used as a natural remedy for insomnia.
According to Michael Breus, Ph.D., a board-certified sleep specialist, chamomile formulations are often used as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer.
You can use dried chamomile flowers or chamomile tea bags to make a soothing cup of tea. Add two teaspoons of dried chamomile or one chamomile tea bag to one cup of hot water and steep for five minutes. Strain and drink 45 minutes before bedtime.
9. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo Biloba has been cultivated for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. It contains high levels of flavonoids and terpenoids and has beneficial effects on memory and cognition. It is also believed to reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Ginkgo Biloba is available easily in supplement form and is considered safe for children and teenagers. Take a supplement 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality.