Insomnia is among the most prevalent problems that I often hear about in my counseling office. This implies that a child is having difficulty falling and staying asleep. Occasionally, kids can sleep without any problem, especially if their parents stay in the room with them.
Insomnia is a constant complaint of adults and children alike, but sleep problems in children can be particularly hard on the family. When kids aren’t sleeping normally, it takes a toll on everyone in the home. Not only will the kids not get sufficient sleep, but parents’ sleep may also be disrupted from their children’s constant waking.
The Vicious Cycle Of Insomnia
At some point in our lives, a lot of us will have problems sleeping, particularly when things at home are stressful. Often, a kid’s sleepless evenings get resolved by themselves once stress levels decrease. For others, sleep issues are not resolved as easily. Insomnia can linger for weeks or months, or even longer.
Sleep is crucial to a child’s mental and emotional well-being. Lack of sleep results in heightened anxiety and trouble focusing, which in turn could make it more difficult to sleep the next night. Through the support of parents and often from a child counselor, families can break free from the cycle and help each other get back to their normal sleep patterns.
Causes Of Childhood Insomnia
Many kids have trouble sleeping or staying asleep at some point in their lives – this is not an uncommon ordeal. Below are some popular reasons why children can’t sleep well at night.
Behavioral. Occasionally, without any intention, parents and kids come to follow an evening schedule that needs to be done repeatedly so that the child can feel that he’s ready to go to bed. For instance, a kid whose mom sleeps beside him until he falls asleep might begin to relate mom’s presence with the concept of sleeping, and eventually, this becomes a necessity for bedtime nightly.
Physical. As in adults, some children are inherently nocturnal while others are simply morning individuals, affecting sleep patterns. According to experts, a minority of kids with sleep issues might have preexisting medical conditions, like restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea. If sleep issues continue for months or you observe some physical indications like trouble breathing, it’s wise to consult your child’s pediatrician.
Anxiety. Several kids seem tense or just downright scared of bedtime routines. Separation anxiety, a condition where a child is scared of being separated from his parents or guardians, is usual in the younger group. It could often present as hesitation to go to bed, a fear that something unpleasant might happen if he is not with his parents, or a fear of being by himself.
Other types of anxiety, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, can also make it more difficult for kids to sleep. If he is worried or scared during bedtime or has to complete an unusually long nighttime routine, anxiety could be the primary source of his sleeping challenges.
Gadgets And Media. Children frequently have strong imaginations, which is actually an asset. Often, though, a very strong imagination can make them vulnerable to sleep problems. The use of television, computers, smartphones, and other gadgets must be limited to a specific number of hours per day to keep them from being incapable of reading between the lines of pretend and reality.
Traumatic Events. Seldom, an unpleasant incident can lead to sleep disorders. Kids who have gone through trauma are usually scared during bedtime, are disturbed by nightmares, or have difficulty falling asleep. If the sleep problems are supplemented by other indications like tantrums, bedwetting, or mood changes, trauma must be ruled out as a potential cause.
Helping Your Child Sleep Better
Sleep problems don’t develop overnight. Similarly, they don’t get resolved in one day as well. Anxious kids benefit from a nightly routine that is simple, stable, and entails opportunities to relax and calm down before heading to bed. Drafting a chart of the bedtime schedule is also a great method of helping children shift to positive gear and be more comfortable as nighttime approaches.
Kids with strong imaginations – those who are scared of monsters at night – can really help if parents talk with their kids about what’s real and what’s not. They should reassure their kids that scary movies or incidents don’t really happen in real life.
If you’ve done these simple steps and your child is still having difficulty unwinding in the evening, he might require a professional – a therapist or a counselor – who can help him learn more effective coping strategies for relaxation and comfort. Sleep problems are not easy for everyone involved, but patience and determination can frequently turn most nighttime individuals into more relaxed sleepers. If you are unable to help your child by yourself, counseling is one of the best alternatives.