Child Insomnia: How to help your child get a better night’s sleep

By Staff Writer • Published: June 25th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You probably know the feeling … lying awake in bed, unable to fall asleep no matter how many sheep you count. Well, it turns out that insomnia doesn’t just affect adults. One out of four children and teenagers suffer from it too.

Defined as the inability to fall asleep or waking up frequently during the night, insomnia is caused by a number of factors, including stress, excessive caffeine consumption, use of certain medications and genetics. Lack of adequate sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart problems and trouble focusing in school.

Increasing use of technology in the digital age has also been found to negatively affect sleep habits. A study published in BMJ Open found that children who spend four hours or more daily using media devices, such as smartphones, are 50 percent more likely to have trouble falling asleep.

Luckily, there are simple solutions to help get your child back to being well-rested and ready to face the world. Doctors recommend setting regular bedtimes for you and your children and sticking to them. According to recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation, children ages 6 to 13 should get between 9 and 11 hours of sleep, and teenagers ages 14 to 17 should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep.

Regulating media device use before bedtime is another way to make sure your children get to sleep at a regular hour. Encourage them to listen to music instead or read a book to calm their minds.

Also, be sure to ask your child if the sleeping environment is comfortable. Rooms that are too hot, cold or noisy can disrupt sleep. It’s often helpful to ask your child’s teacher whether staying awake or having problems focusing are issues in the classroom. Finally, don’t be afraid to talk to your child about the importance of sleep, so it becomes a health priority as they grow.