Insomnia refers to trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep. Here are three quick facts about childhood insomnia.
1.) Most children with insomnia do not need a sleep study
Many parents think that a child with insomnia needs an overnight sleep study to get to the root of the problem. However, most children (unless they have very obvious symptoms of sleep apnea, such as witnessed pauses in breathing or loud snoring) do not need a sleep study. Most childhood insomnia can be improved with a better bedtime routine, as follows.
2.) Having a parent present while the child is falling asleep can negatively impact the child’s ability to sleep deeply
Parents often ask, “Why does my child fall asleep quickly at bedtime but have difficulty staying asleep?” This problem is common and is often due to the fact that the parent is present at bedtime in the child’s room while the child is falling asleep. The parent then leaves. When the child wakes up again during the night, as all children do, the child needs to call the parent back again because the child has learned to fall asleep only when a parent is present.
3.) Granting last minute requests at bedtime often does more harm than good
It is common for a child to stall at bedtime and make lots of additional requests after the bedtime routine is supposed to be over. Your child might ask for “just one more” hug or perhaps another bedtime story. Another child might want to make lots more trips to the bathroom or ask for an additional check under the bed. Some want their blanket to be tucked just so.
These extra requests often go on for a long period of time and many parents think that if they grant all of these requests, their child will then finally fall asleep. However, granting all of these requests after lights out actually rewards the child for staying awake since he or she continues to receive lots of extra attention when the bedtime routine should actually be over.
There are some really simple ways to make sure that your child has everything he or she needs at bedtime but that also allow you, as a parent, to set some reasonable limits. One great way is to have a cozy and comforting bedtime routine with a clear endpoint. Then the child can be allowed to read until drowsy enough to fall asleep on his or her own.