Insomnia in Children

insomnia in children

Recognizing symptoms of insomnia in children can be difficult considering the diverse nature of sleep patterns among kids of different ages.

Yet, ensuring that your baby or child gets enough sleep is an important part of parenting.

The two key indicators of insomnia in children and in adults are difficulty falling asleep and an inability to stay asleep. Lying awake, tossing and turning for hours, waking suddenly (sometimes several times during the night) and being unable to go back to sleep are all symptoms of insomnia. 



CAUSES OF INSOMNIA IN CHILDREN

The cause of insomnia can vary depending on the age of the child, the environment, and individual sleep requirements. It is essential to talk with your healthcare provider if your child is having difficulties sleeping. Following are the most commonly seen causes of childhood insomnia.

Poor Sleep Habits

For babies and young children, not having a regular bedtime, changes in routine, being overstimulated in the evening (e.g. rough-housing with brothers or sisters before bedtime) can all contribute to insomnia.

In older children and teens, causes of insomnia include going to bed too late, having distractions in the bedroom, being over-scheduled with activities or homework until late at night, drinking too many caffeinated drinks, and eating sugary or fatty foods in the evening before bedtime.

Physical and Emotional Issues

Insomnia in children can sometimes be related to discomfort from colds, ear aches, colic, teething, allergies, and more. Conditions that can interfere with sound sleep also include asthma, eczema, bed wetting, other illnesses, and sleep apnea, which causes loud snoring and interrupted breathing.

Emotional issues can also be at the root of childhood insomnia. In younger children, separation anxiety or night terrors can inhibit the sleep process. In older children and teens depression or anxiety could be the trigger.

For all ages, ADHD, asperger's syndrome, and autism, as well as the medications used to treat them, have been linked to sleep problems in children.

Sleep Environment

A bedroom that is too hot or too cold, too light, or too noisy can contribute to insomnia in children. Other simple things such as a wet diaper, pajamas that don't fit, an uncomfortable bed, scratchy sheets, or a misplaced "comfort object" can impede a good night's sleep.

TREATING CHILDHOOD INSOMNIA

There is no "one-size fits all" solution to the problem of childhood insomnia. Works for a teething baby, certainly won't work for a grade-schooler with ADHD or a stressed-out teen. Always talk with your pediatrician about your child's sleep habits and challenges. In addition, the following activities can help to promote better sleep and better health among children of all ages, as well as adults.

Improving Sleep Habits

  • Establishing a regular bedtime, preceded by a calming routine or activity, helps prepare a child for sleep. When this routine is repeated over and over and becomes a habit, your child's body will more readily accept sleep.
  • Avoiding drinks or foods with caffeine, sugar, and artificial ingredients can reduce the chances of sleep problems.
  • Allowing only soft music, stories, or calming activities after dinner can help your child wind down for sleep.
  • Click here for tips on establishing healthy sleep habits for newborns.

Treating Health Issues

Underlying health conditions such as ear infections, asthma, or allergies can be treated effectively under a doctor's care. Insomnia in children caused by these conditions typically resolves itself.

If your child has ADHD or a chronic health problem, you will need to consult with your doctor on an ongoing basis to find a solution (medication or natural remedy) that controls the illness, without causing ongoing sleep problems.

You should always seek counsel from your doctor when your child experiences sleep terrors, excessive snoring (which may indicate sleep apnea), regular nightmares, separation anxiety, depression, and/or other emotional issues.

Addressing these condition can make a huge difference to the quality of your child's sleep - and his/her outlook on life.

Improving the Sleep Environment

  • Making a child's bedroom inviting and relaxing, with no temptations from televisions or computers, can help set the stage for a good nights sleep.
  • Light-blocking curtains and a clean, comfortable bed with seasonally appropriate bedding helps, as well.
  • Adding a humidifier to moisten dry air and adjusting the thermostat and bedding so that your child isn't too hot or too cold can make falling asleep easier and more long-lasting.

Medications aren't often used to treat insomnia in children, particularly if sleep problems are short-term in nature. In fact, research has shown that behavioral techniques (such as improving sleep habits and routines) are more likely to be successful than administering medication. 

For all ages, ADHD, asperger's syndrome, and autism, as well as the medications used to treat them, have been linked to sleep problems in children.

Sleep Environment

A bedroom that is too hot or too cold, too light, or too noisy can contribute to insomnia in children. Other simple things such as a wet diaper, pajamas that don't fit, an uncomfortable bed, scratchy sheets, or a misplaced "comfort object" can impede a good night's sleep.

TREATING CHILDHOOD INSOMNIA

There is no "one-size fits all" solution to the problem of childhood insomnia. Works for a teething baby, certainly won't work for a grade-schooler with ADHD or a stressed-out teen. Always talk with your pediatrician about your child's sleep habits and challenges. In addition, the following activities can help to promote better sleep and better health among children of all ages, as well as adults.

Improving Sleep Habits

  • Establishing a regular bedtime, preceded by a calming routine or activity, helps prepare a child for sleep. When this routine is repeated over and over and becomes a habit, your child's body will more readily accept sleep.
  • Avoiding drinks or foods with caffeine, sugar, and artificial ingredients can reduce the chances of sleep problems.
  • Allowing only soft music, stories, or calming activities after dinner can help your child wind down for sleep.
  • Click here for tips on establishing healthy sleep habits for newborns.

Treating Health Issues

Underlying health conditions such as ear infections, asthma, or allergies can be treated effectively under a doctor's care. Insomnia in children caused by these conditions typically resolves itself.

If your child has ADHD or a chronic health problem, you will need to consult with your doctor on an ongoing basis to find a solution (medication or natural remedy) that controls the illness, without causing ongoing sleep problems.

You should always seek counsel from your doctor when your child experiences sleep terrors, excessive snoring (which may indicate sleep apnea), regular nightmares, separation anxiety, depression, and/or other emotional issues.

Addressing these condition can make a huge difference to the quality of your child's sleep - and his/her outlook on life.

Improving the Sleep Environment

  • Making a child's bedroom inviting and relaxing, with no temptations from televisions or computers, can help set the stage for a good nights sleep.
  • Light-blocking curtains and a clean, comfortable bed with seasonally appropriate bedding helps, as well.
  • Adding a humidifier to moisten dry air and adjusting the thermostat and bedding so that your child isn't too hot or too cold can make falling asleep easier and more long-lasting.

Medications aren't often used to treat insomnia in children, particularly if sleep problems are short-term in nature. In fact, research has shown that behavioral techniques (such as improving sleep habits and routines) are more likely to be successful than administering medication.


Related Information - Insomnia in Children

Sleep Disorders In Children
Children And Sleep Problems
Newborn Sleeping
Sleep Apnea in Children
Sleep Terror Disorder
Bed Wetting Sleep Disorder

› Kids Insomnia

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Published by Jules Sowder








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