Does your child stay up all night, rumbling and tossing? Does your child’s sleep cycle keeps changing every day?
As a concerned mom, you’ve surely spent many a sleepless night trying to stay awake with your baby. Once the initial few years pass by and your baby grows, both your sleep patterns slowly start improving.
As your baby crosses into the child phase, you can start seeing a pattern in his daily routines including sleep habits. But what if your child is not able to sleep through the night or has problems falling asleep? Maybe it’s time to understand about insomnia that affects children.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a condition that affects sleep pattern. This could either make falling asleep difficult, or result in waking up in the middle of sleep and having difficulty sleeping again. Insomnia leads to a feeling of inadequate sleep at night and difficulty in daytime functioning (1).
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Causes Of Insomnia In Children:
While it may sound more of an adult sleep problem, insomnia does affect children, causing various sleep related issues (2).
There may be certain reasons that cause insomnia in your child. On the other hand, there may not be any obvious reasons at all. Here are some common reasons that may affect your child’s sleep:
- Fear of the unknown
- Nightmares or fear of the night
- Over exertion
- Use of stimulants that contain nicotine or sweet
- Hyperactivity before bedtime
- Improper temperature in sleeping area
- Uncomfortable sleep accessories, like clothes, mattress or pillow
- Inadequate lighting
- Bed wetting or a feeling of full bladder
- Too much noise
- Side effect of certain medications
- Any other sleep disorder like sleep apnoea or snoring
[ Read: Sleepwalking In Children ]
Symptoms Of Insomnia in Children:
Insomnia does not simply affect your child’s sleep; it affects other aspects of day time life as well (3). Here are a few pointers you can look out for:
- Always tired
- Feeling sleepy even after waking up
- Lack of concentration
- Academic performance being affected
- Issues with memory like difficulty in remembering regular things
- Blank expression
- Difficulty in understanding basic instructions
- Mood swings
Insomnia In Children – How to Help:
Helping your child fight insomnia can be a little difficult initially, but not impossible. If you have been able to detect the signs at an early stage, here are a few things you can do to help:
1. Help Your Child To Relax:
Sleeping is not just about falling asleep in bed, you should teach your child to start relaxing even before sleep takes over. Teach your child the following:
- Basic meditation.
- Simple deep breathing exercises.
- Relax and loosen limbs – this is a great way to tell the mind and body that it’s time to sleep.
- Basic relaxing visualization techniques – like visualizing a quiet beach or a cool mountain top.
[ Read: Sleep Problems In Children ]
2. Inculcate A Bedtime Routine:
Help your child to maintain a proper bedtime routine. This will help prepare the body for sleep at a set time each night.
- Keep the bed as an area of sleep only – no studying on the bed.
- Ensure your child follows a regular sleep time – keep it same for weekdays as well as weekends.
- Ensure your child has no sweet or nicotine based food or drink items post-afternoon – try and restrict these as much as possible.
- Cleaning up, changing into night clothes and brushing are some regular sleep related routines your child should follow.
3. Ensure The Sleeping Area Is Comfortable:
Make sure the room and bed where your child will sleep is healthy to induce sleep.
- The mattress and pillow should be the right kind – not too soft and not too hard.
- Ensure bed sheets and pillow covers are clean and changed regularly.
- Remove any gadgets or noise creating items from the bedroom like cell phones or loud clocks.
- Keep the television out of the bedroom.
- Ensure the temperature is not too cold or warm.
- Depending on your child’s preference, keep the room dark or use a very low wattage dim light bulb.
[ Read: Sleep Apnea In Children ]
Contacting a Sleep Specialist:
When all else fails and you see a noticeable effect on your child’s daily routine, it’s time to visit a sleep specialist. You can talk to your child’s regular doctor who can then refer a behavioral specialist. Such professionals will use psychological methods for treating insomnia in children without using any drugs.
Sometimes, it may be difficult understanding why your child cannot fall asleep. But handling the situation with love and patience will ensure you make it easier for your child. Do not get frustrated. Instead, try some calming techniques for child insomnia.
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