Children may also suffer from severe insomnia just like adults. If your child suffers from insomnia, this means that he is having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night, or he may wake up early. Insomnia may last for a few days or weeks and is known as acute insomnia. Long-term insomnia is when your child has difficulty sleeping at least three times a week, and this problem continues for a month or more. This is also called persistent or chronic insomnia.
Babies need at least 8 hours of deep and continuous sleep to be able to focus, play and learn during the day.
What are the signs and symptoms of insomnia in children?
A change in your baby’s sleep behavior such as going to bed late is not necessarily a sleep problem. But your child may develop insomnia if:
- He lacks energy or feels constantly tired.
- He makes excuses to avoid going to bed.
- Takes too long to fall asleep.
- He continues to get out of bed and ask for things.
- He continues to wake up throughout the night and cannot go back to sleep.
- He struggles to wake up or refuses to get out of bed in the morning.
- He takes long naps during the day or sleeps at school.
- Struggles to focus or remember information.
- He sleeps at different times from day to day.
What are the causes of insomnia in children?
Insomnia has many different causes, including:
- Sleep associations. For example, when a child cannot sleep without a bottle of milk or with a parent.
- Bedtime behavior, for example spending a lot of time in front of screens, especially in the bedroom.
- Emotional problems such as stress, anxiety or depression.
- Environmental factors such as a hot or noisy sleeping environment.
- Medical conditions such as asthma, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome.
- Illnesses that make sleeping difficult, such as colds or ear infections.
- Medicines such as those used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or antidepressants.
- Caffeine, such as energy drinks, hot chocolate, or colas.
It is a good idea to talk to your doctor if you are concerned that sleep problems are affecting your child’s well-being, school work, or relationships.