Treating Sleep Problems in Children

Sleep disorders in children are usually much different from the sleeping disorders that plague adults. Statistics have indicated that children who don’t get enough sleep at night will often make up for it in class, will not have the energy to exercise and will experience depression like feelings. Nightmares, bedwetting, and sleepwalking are common symptoms of a sleep disorder, so parents should know what to look for and address these issues. If you’re worried about your children’s sleeping habits, then we’ve got some valuable advice on getting them into a consistent sleep schedule that will increase their quality of life.

New parents tend to be very concerned about how much sleep their baby is getting. Newborn infants do not have regular sleep cycles and sleep an average of 16 to 17 hours per day. However, they may only sleep 1 or 2 hours at a time. As children mature, the total number of hours they need for sleep decreases. A pre-school child may still require 10 to 12 hours of sleep daily, compared to a school aged child sleeps about 10 hours each day. It is important to remember that each child’s sleeping cycle can be unique.

It is commonly known that a child who has a sleeping disorder can also have behavioral and attention problems in school. A recent study reported that 37% of school aged children experience significant, nocturnal sleeping issues. Problems often include a reluctance to go to sleep, disrupted sleep, nightmares, and sleepwalking. In older children, bedwetting can also become an obstacle. Sleep problems are also common in kids with ADHD. It is important to try and figure out if these issues, especially if your child has difficulty falling asleep, are a side effect of any ADHD medication he or she may be taking.

Sleeping problems in children can no doubt be beaten if a regular sleeping schedule is followed to ensure that your child gets enough rest. Start by establishing a quiet environment just prior to bedtime. This is an excellent time to take a bath and read a story. By winding down, your child will be able to fall asleep faster. Once the body adjusts to a set routine, he or she is more likely to be tired at the same time every night. If your child suffers from night terrors or nightmares, then make them more comfortable by keeping a night light on in the room and allowing him to sleep with a favorite toy. Physical comfort, such as a firm sleep foundation is also key to get a good night of sleep, as well as roomy and cozy pajamas.

Kids learn from example, so follow a regular sleep schedule yourself. If your child’s symptoms persist, then consider seeing a sleep specialist. Many times sleep problems in children can be caused by depression or other anxiety disorders. However, remember that each child is different. If they’re energetic and active during the day, then don’t worry if they have a sleepless night every now and again.

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– Joe Rodgers