Sleep disorders

We all may sometimes have difficulty sleeping. Sleeplessness is not a problem if it is once in a while. But if falling asleep is a challenge every day, then it could be insomnia, which is a sleep disorders or disturbance affecting both children and adults. Insomnia can be long-term, wherein the child has trouble sleeping for at least three weeks or more or short-term lasting for just a few days.

children and adolescents need at least nine hours of sleep per night. Sleep problems and a lack of sleep can have negative effects on children’s performance in school, during extracurricular activities, and in social relationships.

A lack of sleep may cause:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Behavior problems
  • Mood problems
  • Memory, concentration, and learning problems
  • Performance problems
  • Slower reaction times
  • Overeating

Signs of Sleep Problems in Children

Talk to your pediatrician if your child exhibits any of the following signs of a sleep problem:

  • Snoring
  • Breathing pauses during sleep
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Problems with sleeping through the night
  • Difficulty staying awake during the day
  • Unexplained decrease in daytime performance
  • Unusual events during sleep such as sleepwalkingor nightmares

Symptoms of Insomnia in Children

Besides sleeplessness, here are some symptoms that might indicate childhood insomnia.

  • Waking up early in the morning Sleepy during the day
  • Unable to pay attention to tasks at hand or at school
  • Making silly mistakes
  • Aggression
  • Hyperactivity – a common symptom among kids who don’t get enough sleep Trouble remembering things
  • Discipline issues at home and school
  • Irritable, moody

Children with insomnia may also feel lethargic and tired all the time. However, this symptom could also indicate the onset of cold and flu, anemia, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes among others.

 Improving Your Child’s Sleep

  • Establish a regular time for bed each night and do not vary from it. Similarly, the waking time should not differ from weekday to weekend by more than one to one and a half hours.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading a story.
  • Do not give children any food or drinks with caffein eless than six hours before bedtime.
  • Make sure the temperature in the bedroom is comfortable and that the bedroom is dark.
  • Make sure the noise level in the house is low.
  • Avoid giving children large meals close to bedtime.
  • Make after-dinner playtime a relaxing time as too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake.
  • There should be no television, computer, mobile phone, radio, or music playing while the child is going to sleep. TV and video games should be turned off at least one hour prior to bedtime.
  • Infants and children should be put to bed when they appear tired but still awake (rather than falling asleep in their parent’s arms, or in another room). Parents should avoid getting into bed with a child in order to get them to sleep.
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