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My teenage daughter has so much trouble falling asleep at

She doesn't sleep in, obviously because she has school, doesn't nap during the day, doesn't drink caffiene very often at all (maybe tea with dinner and that's it), she gets exercise because she's on the volleyball team, she showers in the evening before bed so you'd think that would help, but it's not. She tried some milk before bed last night (no honey in it, because she doesn't like honey). I don't know why she can't fall asleep. Anyone know any non-medication remedies? She's 13 years old. Thanks in advance for your advice!


Asked by GoodMomma24-7 at 9:26 AM on Jan. 14, 2010 in Health

Level 12 (769 Credits)
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Answers (16)
  • You don't say how many hours she does sleep. You may be expecting her to go to bed too early. Teens body clocks start trying to shift to staying up late and sleeping late. Scientists have know this for years. Some high schools have even started having first classes at 9 or 10 instead of 7 or 8 because students do better in school. I live in Tucson and there are a lot of charter high schools. Some don't start until noon. So she is fighting her natural body biology.

    The showers before bed may be waking her up. She could try showering after volleyball or in the morning. Reading or music may help her fall asleep. She may be able to condition her body to falling asleep by listening to the same music every night. A sound machine or a cd with calming sounds could lull her into sleep. I have a cd with native American flute music I like. I can put my toddler grandson asleep for naps with James Blunt.

    Answer by Gailll at 9:37 AM on Jan. 14, 2010

  • Yup, those teen years wreak havoc on their sleeping schedules. What I suggest is that she begin a pre-bedtime routine that she can fall into. Taking a shower is a good start. About an hour before bed she should not have any stimulation bothering her - no tv, phone, games, loud music, bright lights, or food. What my daughter does (she has had this problem for years) is turn her music down low and read a book by a low-lit lamplight that is strong enough for her not to strain her eyes. The quiet, the dimness, and the "white" noise of the music calms her body enough to want to go to sleep on its own. It works most nights, but it is better than having her take sleeping pills, which I'm against. Hope she finds something to help soon!

    Answer by PrydferthMenyw at 9:31 AM on Jan. 14, 2010

  • showers can actually keep you up, try having her switch her shower to the morning or right after school.

    some people will tell you melatonin which is an herbal supplement, but do not go with that, when you take that, it just stunts your body's natural production of it meaning that she would need to take it forever.

    have you tried chamomile tea or one of the other sleepy time teas?

    1-2 benedryl capsules will also work, not habit forming either so in a pinch, it's a good sleep aid.

    if she doesn't have one, get her a lamp for her bedside table, have her read in the dark with just the lamp, for about 30 minutes before bed.


    Answer by Anonymous at 9:32 AM on Jan. 14, 2010

  • Stress can cause insomnia, try taking showers in the am and if she has a tv in her room turn it off at a set time. If she has a computer in here room take it out, if she has a cell phone, turn it off also... I know my DD will stay up all night if the tv is on, and if her cell phone is on because it is always going off. Also, if she is stressed about school work or a test she doesn't sleep very well. She is 17 and a senior this year. So some of what I wrote her may not be an issue with your DD. You might want to go to the natural food store and see what they have to offer.

    Answer by midnightmoma at 9:32 AM on Jan. 14, 2010

  • I've suffered with insomnia my entire life. As a teen it was the worst! There were some days I didn't get more than an hour of sleep. Get out the yellow pages and find yourself (and her) and nutritionist or herbalist. Melatonin is great for this, but the stuff they sell at GNC is junk! Melatonin is the natural chemical that the human brain produces to make you sleep. For those of us with insomnia we don't make enough. Also try some "sleepy time tea" which has chamomile. And if you can find it tryptophan. Tryptophan is the chemical in Turkey that makes you sleepy. It's really hard to find but if you get a good herbalist or naturalist they can get it for you.

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 9:32 AM on Jan. 14, 2010

  • I also am an experience insomniac. However, at 13 it is unlikely that your daughter is going through anything other than a "mental growth spurt". The teenage years and the toddler years are remarkably similar in body and brain changes, and if you think back to when your DD was a toddler, she likely had those "growth spurt" times when she wouldn't eat, wouldn't sleep, seemed to be learning new stuff all the time...? Anyway, teenagers have those periods, too. So sometimes, teenagers won't sleep. There's not much to be done about other than what it sounds like you are already doing (limiting caffeine, encouraging a schedule), and what PPs have said (changing shower schedule, reading, etc). BUT, if the problem persists, I suggest just making sure that she is not "going crazy" from the sleep issues, can function, etc., and then let HER tell you when she wants to have more invasive intervention, like meds.

    Answer by Iskkra at 9:41 AM on Jan. 14, 2010

  • Gaill reminded me of reading the same types of studies, about teens falling asleep later on average than adults ad younger kids. She's right. ANd you DIDN'T say when you are expecting her to fall asleep. If I remember right, those studies said that teens generally have a hard time falling asleep before 11pm. Just something to think about.

    And, as a note to my previous comment, I didn't mean to imply that your DD should have meds in any circumstance - when I re-read I realized that is what it sounded like - I do not think that sleeping pills for a teen are, in any way, a good idea. But if she starts saying that the lack of sleep is driving her "crazy" (when I was her age, I had 1-2 hours of sleep a night and started seeing things that weren't there after a while), then it is time to consider more serious problems and go to a doctor. That's actually what I meant, not meds.

    Answer by Iskkra at 9:46 AM on Jan. 14, 2010

  • I know it sounds crazy but have her change positions in the bed... like sleep with her head at the foot of the bed. It worked for me when I was that age. Or maybe change the furniture around in her room. Sometimes just the change of position works wonders.

    Answer by Jjoneslagrange at 9:48 AM on Jan. 14, 2010

  • My Teenage daughter was (is still) having this same problem. Our Ped also prescribed Melatonin. When she takes it it works great.

    Answer by Michellesgirls3 at 10:06 AM on Jan. 14, 2010

  • Oops, yep I did forget to mention that she usually doesn't even try to go to bed before 11:00, because she just isn't tired. Then she's usually up until around 1:00am - 3:00am, writing in her journal, or whatever. I wake her up to get ready for school at 7:30am. I've been hoping that she could at least get a good 8 hours in.

    I appreciate so much all the advice I'm getting here; when my daughter gets home after v-ball this evening, I'll have her come to the computer with me and check out your answers, so we can come up with a few ideas that will help her sleep. You ladies ROCK, thank you. :-)

    Answer by GoodMomma24-7 at 10:23 AM on Jan. 14, 2010