Insomnia in Children -
Causes and Treatment
Insomnia is the inability to sleep or to get quality sleep. An internal clock, located at the hypothalamus, regulates sleep. This internal clock is responsible for the varying patterns of sleep in babies, children, adolescents and adults.
When this clock is disturbed, it causes insomnia. A very common occurrence among children, insomnia in children manifests itself in the form of hyperactivity, depression, reduced attention span, irritability and forgetfulness. Once the root cause of insomnia is known, the problem can be alleviated.
Most children have problems falling asleep and then maintaining it. They deal with it in their own way-by using stuffed toys, having a light on or by sucking their thumbs.
Like adults, they also have insecurities, which are expressed in the form of insomnia. One chief factor causing insomnia in children is the environment in which they live.
- Fear of bullies and teachers can be a reason for insomnia in school-going children
- Fear and anxiety of parental separation, conflicts at home, deaths and divorces affect sleep in children
- Contradictory attitude of mother also affects children
- Children with learning disabilities and with symptoms of depression suffer from insomnia
- At times, insomnia is a result of some medication used
Insomnia is of three kinds - transient or changing, acute and chronic.
Transient and Acute Insomnia - The reason for these two kinds of insomnia in children may be because of illness, medication or even stress. The frequency of this type of sleeplessness is 3-4 times a week. Acute Insomnia can occur every night.
Chronic Insomnia- It is the complete inability of the child to sleep, during the day or night. This calls for immediate medical help.
Routine is perhaps the best treatment for insomnia in children. It is very important to a child. The time to wake up and sleep should be the same. Children are very insecure and it is necessary for them to feel security. Any move made must be gradually broken to them and marital discords be avoided before the children at all costs.
Parental and emotional support is very important to a child. Belittling the child leads to feelings of inferiority, insecurity and ultimately insomnia.
A good diet is also important as are regular exercises and not putting too much pressure on the child. Specialists advise avoidance of violent movies or games and metallic music to avoid insomnia in children. Also read How to Prepare Healthy Food for Growing Kids?
There are a number of reasons for insomnia in children and it is necessary to identify the root cause of sleeplessness to be able to treat it. Establish a routine for the child and maintain it.
Give the child a lot of love and support and teach him or her relaxation techniques. They not only help to sleep but also are also good for use in everyday life. If the problem is severe, get medical help for the child.