You tuck your child into bed each night. Their belly is full. They have nothing to worry about at night. They have played all day and should be worn out. However, for some reason, they are up just a few hours later.
Insomnia in children occurs more frequently than many people realize. Generally, insomnia is defined as the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for more than three nights per week. If your child is suffering from insomnia, there could be many reasons for this.
Symptoms of Insomnia in Children
Sometimes, it is not easy to spot the underlying problem. The following are some of the more common symptoms of insomnia in children, according to medical centers like the non-profit Cleveland Clinic:
- The child may be tired during the daytime hours.
- The child may have problems focusing, concentrating, with memory, or with discipline, at school or at home.
- The child may seem depressed, be irritable, or even have mood swings.
- Many children display symptoms of aggression or even hyperactivity.
- In some cases, the child may get up very early in the morning, have trouble remaining asleep during the night, or may worry about going to bed at night.
If your child is suffering from any of these symptoms of insomnia, it is important to discuss this with the child’s doctor. Generally, a child will continue to display these symptoms until the underlying problem is resolved.
Causes of Insomnia in Children
By understanding what causes insomnia in children, it may be possible to treat the condition and help your child to get better quality sleep at night. Take a look at the following, common causes of this condition.
- Stress is one of the biggest factors and yes, stress can happen in children. Worrying about school, home life, things they have to do, and even changes in daily life, can lead to stress.
- The food your child eats could be contributing to the situation, too. Any foods that have caffeine in them should be avoided at least three hours prior to bedtime. This includes all sodas, energy drinks, coffee and chocolate. In addition, those who use nicotine or alcohol may have difficulty sleeping.
- Children who take medications may be taking one that contributes to insomnia. Those used for ADHD treatment, for example, often cause insomnia.
- Some children do suffer from sleep disorders. Things like obstructive sleep apnea, chronic pain, Asperger’s syndrome, depression, restless leg syndrome, and even neurological disorders, may suffer from insomnia.
What can you do to help your child? Identify, if possible, the underlying cause of the inability to sleep properly. Then, work to resolve that issue if possible. It is also a good idea to encourage the body’s natural sleep cycle by creating a dark, quiet space to sleep. Use light therapy during the day to stimulate a normal sleep schedule.
Insomnia in children does happen, and most children do not understand what they are experiencing, either. Luckily, it can often be overcome. Those children who continue to suffer from the condition should seek out a sleep specialist, especially if the condition begins to interfere with daily life. Many times, simply resolving the worry or underlying problem will resolve the insomnia itself.