Mental health disorders are on the rise. In the United States, anxiety is the most common and affects nearly a third of teens and adults. Although seen as less serious than depression, it’s nothing to scoff at. Anxiety is on the rise and the number of students seeking help for mental health problems is growing too. For a parent raising a teen suffering from anxiety, it can be a challenge helping them manage it and getting enough sleep. This last bit is crucial because anxiety can keep them awake while lack of sleep worsens their anxiety. If it interferes with daily functioning, it’s wise to speak with a doctor to find out the cause and come up with a treatment plan. In the meantime, parents can help their teens sleep better by encouraging a change in habits.
Journaling is a positive way to get out stressful thoughts and soothe anxiety. Persuade your child to pen down worries and anything that makes him feel tensed. He can also note down the things he has to do the next day. This helps organize thoughts and lets the brain relax, making it easier to sleep.
Mindfulness is the state of being in the present. It focuses attention on the now instead of letting the mind wander and worry. The practice of mindfulness meditation, in particular, has been shown to be even more useful. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore examined nearly 19,000 meditation studies and found that mindfulness meditation could ease anxiety, depression and even pain
Studies have time and again shown that exercise has a positive effect on mental health – and sleep. Just one vigorous session can lower anxiety symptoms for hours. A regular schedule could keep symptoms under control for the long term. Exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins instead. These endorphins are natural mood boosters and painkillers. If your teen is in a good mood, he’ll be able to sleep better as he has fewer things to worry about
The emotional effects of exercise – such as seeing the waistline go down and strength increase – also contribute to improve the state of mind and consequently, sleep. Encouraging your teen to start exercising by playing sports or working out can help him feel better about himself. Note: Exercising late in the day can interfere with the onset of sleep for some people. You can advise him to work out early in the day instead.
A healthy diet is important for teens and adults but it’s even more crucial if your child suffers from poor sleep related to anxiety. A balanced diet can actually reduce anxiety symptoms. For instance, complex carbohydrates metabolize slower and maintain even blood sugar levels. This creates a sense of calm. About 90 percent of serotonin – a chemical that regulates mood – is made in the digestive tract. So, what your child eats can actually affect anxiety and in turn, his sleep quality. Foods that can help temper anxiety include those rich in zinc, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics
If your child isn’t sleeping well, it’s important he catches up on sleep. One way to do this is with power naps. They vary from 10-90 minutes and provide rest without hampering sleep at night. A quick 10-minute nap is great for boosting energy and alertness while a long 90-minute nap provides deep rest as that’s the time taken to complete one sleep cycle. Just make sure he doesn’t nap late in the day otherwise he’ll feel alert at night. The best time is after between 2-3 pm (after lunch) as blood sugar and energy levels drop.
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Clutter can cause stress and that can worsen anxiety in your child. The brain sees the mess as something that it needs to clear up. If your teen’s room isn’t tidy, it’s safe to say he won’t sleep well. Help him understand this and work on creating a neat bedroom that he can see as a haven. Along with this, invest in a mattress that’s designed to promote good sleep so he isn’t woken at night.
The Nuvanna mattress aims to do just this with its unique three-layer construction. The product of a materials scientist with over 20 years of experience, it features three layers that target three sleep disruptors – heat, motion and poor support. The top layer regulates temperature by drawing out excess body heat and dispersing it into the air. The middle layer isolates motion so sleepers aren’t disrupted by their bed partner’s movements. The bottom layer provides support to the body, including the spine, and keeps it pain-free.
Anxiety is not easy to deal with. Anxiety that interferes with sleep can feel worse. However, with time and effort, your child can learn to manage stressors and sleep better. Help your teen understand how sleep plays a role in managing symptoms. The more he knows, the more he’ll understand that he needs to prioritize sleep. If his anxiety continues even after making lifestyle changes, do consult a doctor. Together, you can work on helping him lessen symptoms, sleep better and lead a happier, fulfilling life.