Fighting insomnia in children: making good sleep habits for your children.
A child not being able to sleep well is a problem that affects the whole family, which is why it is important to know how to combat insomnia in children. Nights with insomnia may be due to many different things, but it is normally because of bad habits at bedtime. According to neurologist Felipe Giácaman, “This type of problem is due mainly to poor sleep health and bad environment when going to sleep”.
In order to overcome insomnia in children, it is important to create good sleep habits for your children from birth. The problem starts when parents create a series of negative habits or instead of calming the child down at bedtime, do activities that wake them up. “For example, you have to avoid rituals when they wake up at night, because when you feed them at night or walk them around, you’re creating poor habits”, says Giácaman.
When your child starts crying in the middle of the night, don’t go straight away. Try to wait a few minutes before going in to comfort them. Once they calm down, leave the room and only enter again if they start crying again, but wait a little longer this time.
Insomnia in children may be due to emotional events, or stressful, anxious, or traumatic situations. Psychologist Isis Bravo comments: “Insomnia may appear due to an emotional shock, poor nutrition, busy room decoration, anxiety, or long trips. It can also happen if there are idiopathic psychophysiological problems in the pineal gland related to states of sleep and wakefulness.”
For the psychologist Estefania Egea, the cognitive stimulation program from CogniFit may be helpful for treating insomnia in children. This program is aimed to work the neuronal networks used in sleeping. A proper intervention could modify sleep architecture and reduce the problems that these children have when falling asleep.
Aside from insomnia, children may also suffer from sleep disorders like parasomnias, which includes sleep-walking and night terrors. In these cases, you should see a pediatrician to rule out physical anomalies. If the cause of these are only psychological, specialists recommend that you create habits and schedules while getting ready for bed: give the child a bath at night, then give them something to eat, and put them in the crib. When they are older, avoid letting them take long naps, especially after eating or close to bedtime. You should also try to keep stimulating activities away from them an hour before going to sleep. If you can, keep electronics out of their room.
Our last recommendation is that parents be understanding. You should show you child constant support and make sure they know that you’ll be there to help them with their disorder. Most importantly, keep your cool and don’t lose patience or be irritable with the child as this will only aggravate the problem.
Molly is a writer specialized in health and psychology. She is passionate about neuroscience and how the brain works, and is constantly looking for new content from interesting sources. Molly is happy to give or take advice, and is always working to educate and inspire.