Childhood insomnia prevents a child from falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. Poor quality of sleep may cause a host of negative effects, such as irritability, depression, and trouble concentrating. Your child's sleepless nights may be caused by several factors. Pinpoint the cause so you may find an effective solution. Here are five reasons for childhood insomnia.
1. Lack of a Structured Sleep Routine
Does your child go to bed at different times each night? If so, the erratic hours may be compromising his or her sleep. Establishing a bedtime routine - and sticking to it - may help your child get a good night's sleep.
Also, allow your child some down time to unwind before bedtime. A bedtime story, a relaxing bath, or a nightly snack may be part of this routine. Conversely, playing a stimulating video game or physical activity shortly before bedtime may interfere with your child's sleep. It is best to find a relaxing routine at bedtime and not deviate from it.
2. Screen Time Usage Before Bed
Does your child tend to look at a computer monitor or smartphone just before going to bed? If so, the bedtime screen usage may be causing sleep disturbances. Computer and phone screen emit something called blue light. When your child looks at an electronic blue light-emitting device, the body's production of melatonin decreases. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regular sleep.
A simple solution would be to use a blue light filter that typically comes equipped with many devices. The blue light filter helps to filter out harmful blue light. Alternatively, restrict the usage of computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices before going to sleep.
3. Too Much Caffeine Consumption
Caffeine is a stimulant and if your child consumes too much, especially prior to bedtime, falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night may be difficult. Besides drinking caffeinated cola or soft drinks, your child may be consuming caffeine from other sources.
Foods and beverages that contain caffeine include hot chocolate, iced tea, coffee ice cream, chocolate bars, and even some cold medications. Make sure to check the labels on products for caffeine. In addition, if your child enjoys soft drinks, insist on caffeine-free varieties.
4. Being Overly Tired
If your child is overly tired, falling asleep may become difficult. Young children and toddlers that do not have a mid-day nap may become overly tired at night, delaying their sleep. Ensuring your child gets that afternoon nap is a simple solution to this problem. Be sure your child's nap time isn't too late in the day, however.
5. Anxiety or Stress
Short-term insomnia may be caused by a stressful or traumatic experience. If your child is struggling with stress or anxiety, sleep disturbances are common. Children often keep fears or anxiety well-hidden. Talk to your child and try to determine what is bothering him or her.
If you learn what is troubling your child, try to find a way to help. Sometimes, help can be as easy as simply talking things over with a trusted adult or loving parent. For very young children experiencing a loss, reading stories about similar situations may help the child understand and cope better. Once you deal with the issue, your child may achieve better sleep.
When all else fails, schedule an appointment with the family doctor. A medical examination may help pinpoint or rule out medical causes for your child's sleepless nights. Childhood allergies or even bed-wetting may be the culprit. In some cases, prescription medication may be needed, so ask if this is a practical solution for treating your child's insomnia.