Some nights, it is difficult to slow down and find restful sleep at the end of the day. For adolescents and young adults, sleep is imperative. In 2010, The American Medical Association recognized insufficient sleep in adolescents as a serious health risk. It is noted that insufficient sleep and associated daytime sleepiness are a major threat to the health and safety of adolescents and young adults.
Sleeplessness negatively impacts our daily lives and keeps us from performing at our best. Adolescents and young adults are finding it harder and harder to disconnect from their lives and engage in healthy sleep habits. Evening and nighttime screen use, as well as social networking negatively impact an individual’s ability to slow down mentally and find restful sleep. Research has shown that teenagers and young adults can be utilizing as many as four electronic devices at one time and the use of multiple electronic devices in the evening is associated with less sleep and increased daytime sleepiness. Caffeine has also been receiving attention as a concern for young adults, as it can be connected to shorter sleep increments, delayed sleep, and poorer quality sleep.
Stress, anxiety, and depression were also identified as factors that led to sleep concerns in young people. Many adolescents and young adults list after school commitments such as jobs, clubs, sports, and studying as contributing to their stress level and ultimately impacting their sleep duration. Young adults will often try to make up for lost sleep on the weekends by sleeping in or taking naps throughout the day, however, these practices can cause more harm than good. “Banking” sleep can disrupt circadian rhythms and melatonin production (a hormone that regulates the sleep wake cycle).
A chronic loss of sleep and irregular sleep patterns in teenagers and young adults has been linked to an increased risk of alcohol use, drug use, and risky behaviors. Furthermore, when an individual is sleep deprived, they may exhibit a lack of motivation, inattention, poor judgment, and difficulty with decision making and mood regulation. Research has shown that college students that do not get the recommended amount of sleep exhibit a higher risk for symptoms of depression. Additionally, sleep concerns are shown to be both a risk factor for developing depression, as well as predictor of relapsing if an individual previously experienced depression.
By integrating science, behavioral modification, and mindfulness techniques our psychologists can help you to get a better night’s sleep. In therapy, we can help to identify patterns that may keep you awake and help you to feel more rested during your day. Research has shown that addressing sleeplessness and insomnia will also greatly improve the treatment of other mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety.