Sleep Aids for Teens
Every aspect of our mental, emotional, and physical health is affected by the quality of sleep we get each night. Proper sleep is essential to deep healing, vitality, and life force. Teens are at an important stage of growth and development, and because of this, they typically need more sleep than adults. The average teen needs about nine hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested. Without sleep, their ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems is compromised. Lack of enough sleep can also cause a weakened immune system, imbalanced hormones, and an increased risk of weight gain and cardiovascular issues.
There are many factors that keep teens from getting enough sleep. 80% of teens with depression have insomnia, defined as failure to get a full night’s sleep due to the inability to fall asleep or go back to sleep once woken during the night. Anxiety, stress, and grief are also all major psychological issues that attribute to compromised sleep patterns and unfortunately, many teens suffer from one of the above. Insomnia can also result from physical causes, including arthritis, asthma, hypoglycemia, indigestion, and kidney or heart issues. Caffeine consumption, use of stimulating drugs, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to the lack of or inability to sleep.
Taking all of the above into consideration, it is vital to understand where the lack of sleep is stemming from. Whether it’s due to depression, hypoglycemia, or simply poor lifestyle habits, we can use holistic remedies to make falling and staying asleep much easier during this critical time in a teen’s life! Below are a variety of herbal and supplemental options that can be used in combination with proper nutrition and lifestyle changes to help have a restful nights sleep.
Lemon- Balm - a mild nervine relaxant that helps with acute cases of stress or tension. Is also ideal for mild insomnia or for relaxing in the evening.
Try sipping a cup of lemon balm tea in the evening before bed or any time during the day when you need relaxation support.
Passionflower has analgesic and tranquilizing properties that allow the body to relax and fall into a deep sleep. Passionflower is also an amazing herb to consider for overthinking, especially at night, as the medicinal properties of this herb allow the mind to be calm and tranquil when thoughts are bombarding your head.
Best consumed in tincture form before bed for occasional sleeplessness. Passionflower can also be made into a tea.
Chamomile - another gentle relaxant that helps with calming the nervous system.
Try a cup of tea in the evening before bed as part of your routine to relieve stress and calm the body in preparation for sleep.
Valerian - a more powerful sedative that is used for acute anxiety. It has powerful relaxant and sedative actions which help induce sleep.
Valerian can be found in tea combinations or can be taken in tincture form.
Skull Cap - a nervine tonic for longer-term strengthening of the nervous system with relaxation properties. It is very useful in nerve irritability, hyper-brain activity (“tired-but-wired”) and has sedative qualities as well.
It can be taken as a tea (either alone or in a combination formula) or in tincture form.
GABA (gamma butyric acid) is a naturally occurring chemical compound produced in the brain that helps to calm the excitability of neurons. People who have chronic sleep problems typically have GABA levels that are 30% below normal, as do people with mood disorders, like depression, which are tied to insomnia as well.
Try in chewable form 200mg 2x per day.
L-theanine increases alpha wave activity in the brain, mimicking brain waves during deep sleep phases. Because of this, L-theanine increases the production of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA, which all promote sleep and elevate mood.
Try a chewable supplement 100-200mg daily.
Magnesium - is an important mineral for countless function in the body, from smooth muscle regulation, detoxification, body health, and even relaxation. Taking 200-400mg of magnesium can help calm the body for sleep.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that promotes sound sleep by adjusting the body’s internal clock. Though it won’t force your body to sleep, melatonin levels naturally rise in the evening and put you into a state of quiet wakefulness that helps promote sleep. If melatonin production is compromised, it is difficult to develop a proper sleeping schedule.
Start with .5mg 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed. Melatonin is helpful for some, but not all.
Whatever the cause of sleep disturbance is, it is important to make sleep a priority. Identifying what is preventing your teen from falling/staying asleep and providing support through the recommendations listed throughout this guide, can lead to a more restful night’s rest - along with a happier, healthier teen!