Child insomnia has a huge impact on our children. Not getting enough sleep or not getting quality sleep can negatively impact every aspect of their young lives. It can even prevent their mind and bodies from growing appropriately. As parents we do everything we can to help our children thrive. Sleep is just another area in which we can help them.
Mark Levy DDS is a sleep expert and has helped thousands of adults and children achieve more restful sleep. Child insomnia can be caused by a number of things and Dr. Levy can help treat many of these conditions. Our expertly trained staff works diligently to help worried parents get their children on the path to better sleep.
Child insomnia occurs when your child either has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It’s fairly common for children to also wake up too early as a result of insomnia. Children who suffer from insomnia aren’t getting a restful night of sleep and this can greatly impair their daytime activities.
Short-term insomnia usually lasts anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks. It’s usually caused by sickness or medication. Long-term insomnia occurs for a month or longer and may be caused by more serious conditions. These frequently include depression, anxiety, and a variety of medical issues. Whatever the cause, we want to help our children sleep.
Sometimes it is difficult for children to convey when they aren’t getting enough sleep. As their parents, it is our responsibility to recognize the symptoms of child insomnia so we can help them. The most common symptoms you may notice in your child include waking up too early in the morning. Children who suffer from insomnia also often complain about going to bed or not being able to fall asleep. In addition, you may notice that they are sleepy during the day. They may have problems with behavior at home or at school including irritability, aggression, hyperactivity, and mood swings. Children who suffer from insomnia also tend to have a decreased attention span and memory problems. They also tend to be more accident prone and may suffer from depression.
Some of the most common causes of long-term child insomnia include sleep disorders. Leading this list is obstructive sleep apnea. This form of sleep apnea typically presents with snoring and excessive pauses in breathing. If your child has this condition then they frequently stop breathing multiple times through the night. While pauses in breathing are normal, sleep apnea creates prolonged pauses. The duration of these apnea episodes in conjunction with how frequently they occur can greatly disrupt your child’s sleep.
Children who suffer from sleep apnea have a drop in blood oxygen levels throughout the night. They also wake frequently. It is unlikely that they are aware they are waking frequently throughout the night. However, as morning approaches they are more likely to stay awake once they’ve woken due to an apnea spell.
Child insomnia can also be caused by environmental factors such as noise, temperature, and light. Medications can also lead to sleeping problems for your child. However, if you correct these issues and your child is still having difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep, you may want to ask your pediatrician about testing for sleep apnea.
The key to treating child insomnia is to discover and treat the underlying condition. Creating a consistent bed time routine is the first step in helping your child get a restful night of sleep. Find what works for your child and stick with it. It’s also a good idea to eliminate stimulating activities prior to and during bed time. This includes use of the television, caffeinated products, computer use, and any other screen time. Their bedroom should be a calm, quiet area that is a comfortable temperature and dark. A small nightlight doesn’t usually interfere with sleep as long as it is not shining directly on the child.
Teaching your child how to relax will also help them fall asleep. Practicing deep breathing and relaxing are great ways to help your child drift off to sleep. Keeping bedtime at the same time of the day will help your child establish a routine. It’s also a good idea to wake your child at the same time every day.
If your pediatrician suspects that sleep apnea is the cause of your child’s insomnia then they will recommend a sleep test. Your child will be evaluated as they sleep to determine if they are experiencing apnea episodes. This frequently occurs in a sleep center, however there are many home versions of monitoring now available.
If your child is diagnosed with sleep apnea then you and your pediatrician can discuss the variety of treatment options. Many children outgrow sleep apnea, however it should be treated in the meantime to improve their quality of life. Popular treatment options include dental appliances to help keep the airway open, or a continuous positive airway pressure machine. Be sure to express your questions and concerns with your pediatrician and sleep specialist. It’s important to work together to determine which course of treatment will be best for your child.