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Kids' Phone Safety Blog

Phone Management vs. Pills: Better Sleep for Teens

February 21, 2020
Is your teen having trouble in school because they’re losing sleep?

Teenagers are at an interesting time in their physical development when it comes to sleep. Sleep hormones are produced later in the evening and last longer into the morning, which is why your teen seems determined to stay up late and sleep in. In some areas, schools have responded to this information by moving middle or high school start times to later in the morning, allowing teens to get more sleep. 

But even with these changes, teens are still experiencing sleeplessness, and some medical professionals report an increase in requests for sleep medications for teenagers. But is medicine really the answer? Take a look at the risks of sleep medication for teens and find out why phone management might be a better option. 

Sleep Medications and Teens

Is your teen having trouble in school because they’re losing sleep?

Is your teen having trouble in school because they’re losing sleep?

Prescription medications for sleep can be helpful for adults with insomnia, but there are few drugs specifically designed to treat insomnia in children, and prescription medications commonly prescribed to adults may not be the best choice. These medications can be addictive and can contribute to serious problems like depression and memory loss. They can also have side effects including daytime sleepiness and sleepwalking. 

Because prescription medications may be inappropriate for teens, doctors often recommend over-the-counter remedies like diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that often causes sleepiness as a side effect, or melatonin supplements. But even these may not be harmless solutions for children and teens. These types of medications are usually developed for adults and often not evaluated for safety or efficacy in children and teens. 

Alternatives to Medication

Fortunately, medication isn’t the only way to treat sleep problems in teens. Sleep experts recommend that teens practice good sleep hygiene. This means sleeping in a dark, quiet room, keeping the temperature cool, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants in the afternoon and evening, and avoiding foods that can trigger indigestion before bedtime. 

Good sleep hygiene also involves exercising and exposing oneself to natural light during the day and avoiding disruptive blue light – such as that produced by a smartphone or other digital device – at night. Avoiding blue light may be the most difficult part for teens, who often spend time in bed texting, playing games, or scrolling through social media. 

Smartphone and Device Management

Is your teen is keeping their phone close at night

If your teen is keeping their phone close at night, the phone might be the cause of their disrupted sleep.

A good way to help your teen get enough sleep at night is to enforce boundaries on their device use at night. Ideally, your teen should avoid blue light for several hours before bed. There are special glasses that can be used to block blue light, and these may be helpful for teens who can’t avoid device use at night, such as teens who need to do homework after dinner. 

Set up a charging station for smartphones and other devices in a common area of the home, not in your teen’s bedroom. That way, your teen won’t have the phone right on their nightstand, tempting them to look through it late at night. 

Parental monitoring software can also help you set and enforce boundaries on technology use to help your teen get healthy sleep. To find out more, get our free trial.

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