Insomnia in children
Is your child tossing and turning, and unable to get a good night’s sleep? Having trouble sleeping is more common in adults than children, but some kids struggle to sleep. The underlying cause should be established so that any potential medical problems can be addressed so that your child can get a good rest.
Why you need to pay attention to childhood insomnia
Countless important physiological processes happen when we sleep, and a proper night’s shut eye is needed for the repair of tissues, a strong immune system and optimal brain functioning. Kids who sleep poorly often have lower academic grades and more behavioural problems. Furthermore, sleep difficulties in children may be a sign of a more serious underlying problem.
Types of childhood insomnia
Broadly speaking, the two most common types of insomnia seen in children are sleep-onset insomnia and limit-setting insomnia. Sleep-onset insomnia involves difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep, while limit-setting insomnia usually occurs in children older than five years, who will find any reason to get out of bed or prolong bedtime.
Treating childhood insomnia
If you are concerned that your child is having trouble sleeping, the first step is to make sure that you have optimised sleep habits. Make sure your child uses the bed for sleeping and nothing else – not homework or watching TV. Also check that you avoid giving your child sugar or stimulants late in the afternoon or evening, and define a wind-down routine to help your child relax just before bed. If you are satisfied that your child has good sleep hygiene but the insomnia is persisting, talk to your paediatrician. Stress or anxiety, which may cause childhood insomnia, are best managed through counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy, while other causes of insomnia, such as respiratory illness or snoring, can be treated medically.
The information in this article is intended for general purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a healthcare professional.