Adequate sleep is a requirement for the development of a child.
Although insomnia is often associated with babies, children of several age groups experience it at some point in their lives. Child insomnia is the inability of a child to stay asleep for the required amount of time needed daily.
You should however be concerned if your child sleeps for fewer hours each day. This is because most children fall asleep immediately after a long day of school or after recreational activities.
If lack of sleep affects the lives and productivity of adults, imagine the effects it will have on children who are still trying to find their footing in a world overrun with distractions.
Causes Of Child Insomnia
Child insomnia is caused by several factors. Some of these are listed below;
Your child can have insomnia if they are constantly worried about their grades at school. Tension between parents and bullying at school can also cause anxiety or stress for your child.
2. Underlying medical conditions
Underlying medical issues like heart conditions, skin irritation and epilepsy can show symptoms through insomnia. Do not be quick to assume that your child is depressed if they are not getting the right amount of sleep.
One major drawback of excessive intake of caffeine is its ability to keep the brain and mind active for a long time. This can make the child hyperactive leading to longer hours spent awake.
4. Side effects of some medication
Some pain, asthma and cold medications can make your child develop insomnia from an early age.
5. Other sleep disorders
Sleep disorders like Obstructive sleep apnea, and narcolepsy can cause child insomnia.
Other examples of disorders that lead to child insomnia include; restless leg syndrome, jet lag and parasomnia.
Signs Of Child Insomnia
1. Mood swings
Like a faulty light switch, your child can experience a myriad of emotions when they do not get enough sleep.
2. Lack of concentration
If you have noticed any negative change in your child’s performance at school despite the help of teachers and tutors, now will be a good time to inquire if that child is getting the right amount of sleep daily.
3. Falling asleep at odd places
Most children are always active; running around and jumping from one spot to another despite your pleas. On the flip side, you should be concerned if your child dozes off at the playground, classroom or bus stop.
4. Waking up earlier
Irregular sleep patterns can develop due to lack of sleep. This can make your child wake up earlier than expected.
Alarm bells should ring in your mind when your bubbly 5-year-old just wants to lie in bed all day instead of playing with his friends or watching his favourite TV program.
6. Lack of motivation/depression
One major sign of child insomnia is a lack of motivation or depression. This is because the body has not had time to rebuild dead cells thereby causing general weakness. It can in turn lead to unwillingness to perform daily tasks and goals.
7. Resistance to sleep schedule
As parents, it is beneficial to create sleep schedules for your children so that their bodies can get used to their sleep patterns. If your child no longer maintains the patterns he or she used to, insomnia might be around the corner.
Treatment Of Child Insomnia
Some measures can be put in place in your home to help your child battle insomnia before you visit a professional
1. Ensure the room is comfy
Your child’s sleeping environment should be made very comfortable so that the mind gets relaxed and ready to wind down for the night. Comfortable bedding (preferably cotton), use of soft pillows and dim lights are advisable to prepare the body and mind for bed.
2. Limit the use of devices before bedtime
Technological devices are used by children for their school and personal use. Before bedtime, ensure that all devices are switched off. This is because the blue light emitted from these devices reduces the production of melatonin which is the hormone responsible for controlling the sleep-wake cycle in a person.
3. Establish and maintain a sleep/wake-up routine
So many activities like the blinking of the eyes, walking, thinking and breathing are controlled by the brain without the direct involvement of a child.
Therefore, having a sleep routine conditions the brain to sleep and wake at specific periods which is good for the overall development of a child.
Exercising is very beneficial to your child as it stimulates the muscles, increases metabolism, increases blood circulation and sharpens the mind.
This helps to reduce depression, and anxiety and improve concentration which are some of the main causes of child insomnia.
5. Limit the activities done in the bedroom
The bedroom has multiple functions in different homes. Some kids take their meals or have a group of friends in their rooms. Doing these activities is not wrong but it should be done with moderation especially when the nighttime is approaching.
6. Reduce dependence
Some children can not sleep if they do not read a bedtime story or a loved one is not there to tuck them in and kiss them good night.
Doing this is great but decide when to cut down on this routine to prevent your child from being over-dependent on the presence of a loved one before they can go to bed.
7. Seek professional help
Though most child insomnia cases are outgrown as the years go by, seeking professional help if your child continues to experience insomnia after a long time or when the degree of insomnia gets worrisome is advised.
Most adults have experienced insomnia in their childhood or teenage years. It is common due to the different physiological, physical and environmental changes a child has to go through to become an adult.
Parents can help their children to cope and overcome insomnia by letting love lead. As such, they can put in measures to change the situation while seeking professional help when needed.
Researched By: Adejoke Toye