Causes and Effects of Insomnia to Kids

Apr 18 2017     /     ,

 Written by: Aby League

Patricia, a 27-year-old mother, faces a daily struggle: putting her toddler to bed each night. Like most kids, Patricia’s three-year-old son does everything to bail out of bedtime. The first-time mother is concerned about her child’s sleep habits once he starts school.

Sleeping disorders are common among children. Childhood behavioral insomnia is a type of insomnia in which “children don’t want to go to bed on time unless a bedtime routine is enforced.” If parents don’t strictly enforce bedtime rules, kids will stay as late they want, resulting in unhealthy sleep habits.

Here is some important information that you need to know about sleeping disorders in kids and how you can help.

Is your kid suffering from insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleeping disorder that affects millions of people regardless of age. The Mayo Clinic warns that insomnia not only saps one’s energy level and mood, but also negatively impacts health, work performance, and quality of life. The symptoms of insomnia include difficulty falling or staying asleep, or waking too early in the morning, anxiety about going to bed, feeling constantly tired and sleepy during the day, and irritability. Children with this condition also experience disciplinary problems, mood swings, and learning difficulties.

Don’t underestimate your child’s insomnia problem

Although insomnia among children is common, parents should not treat it as something that kids will outgrow. Insomnia is a sleeping disorder that can have serious consequences. What are the causes and effects of insomnia to children?  This sleeping disorder is commonly due to stress, irregular bedtime schedules, and poor lifestyle habits. Children who experience difficulties at home (constant arguing in the household, parents’ divorce, relocating to a new home, etc.) or being bullied in school are also likely to suffer from insomnia.

Insomnia can result in sleep deprivation, especially among school children and teens. According to the National Sleep Foundation, kids aged 6 to 13 should be sleeping for nine to 11 hours per night while teens aged 14 to 17 should get eight to 10 hours of daily quality zzz’s.  Failure to meet these recommendations can lead to sluggishness, learning and memory problems, and foul moods.

Understanding sleep apnea

In some instances, this disorder is because of an underlying medical condition such as anxiety disorders, asthma, heart disease, cancer or sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea. The American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) warns that about 25 percent of children, mostly aged 2 to 8, are suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder characterized by long pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. This is common among overweight people and young children who have enlarged tonsil tissues. “Some researchers have charted a specific impact of sleep disordered breathing on ‘executive functions’ of the brain: cognitive flexibility, self-monitoring, planning, organization, and self-regulation of affect and arousal,” the ASAA notes in its website.

What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Stanford Health explains that OSA is a condition in which throat tissues block the upper airway and disrupt sleep-related breathing. The typical symptoms of OSA in children are snoring, mouth breathing, restless sleep, bed wetting and sleepwalking. Kids with this sleeping disorder also experience difficulties in learning and concentrating, aggressive behavior, and hyperactivity.

Stanford Health says that OSA affects one to three percent of children across the country. If untreated, this condition can increase a kid’s risk to obesity, enlarged neck size, narrowed upper airway, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, and chronic nasal congestion. Seek medical assistance as necessary.

Parasomnias frighten children

Is your child petrified of going to bed? You should ask your kid what’s bothering him/her. Nighttime sleep behaviors or parasomnias are suffered by both adults and children. These nighttime activities include sleepwalking, sleep terrors, confusional arousals, sleep paralysis, and nightmares.

Sleepwalking is a risk to your child’s safety. Waking up in a different place other than his/her bed can be frightening for your kid. Sleep or night terrors are episodes of extreme terror and a temporary inability to attain full consciousness. A child suffering from this condition exhibit fear, panic, moaning or screaming during their sleep. Sleep terrors usually occur in the first part of the night while nightmares happen in the last third. A nightmare can awaken your child in the middle of the night in a heightened state of distress. This can be due to an illness, anxiety or an uncomfortable sleeping environment.

Help your kids adopt better sleep habits

In many cases, children outgrow their inability to fall asleep easily at night. However, this doesn’t mean that parents should set aside the probabilities of a serious underlying condition and the impact of insomnia. There are ways to help your kids adopt better sleep habits.

Develop a bedtime routine. This can involve washing up, brushing teeth, prepping the bed, and reading one bedtime story. The key is consistency. Perform the same routine at the same hour each night, whether it’s a school night or weekend. The bedtime routine can also involve listening to soothing music or doing relaxing exercises. These can help calm your kids’ nerves.

Create a conducive sleeping environment

Put yourself in your child’s shoes. How can you get a good night’s sleep on an uncomfortable bed in a humid room? Get yourself a quality bed foam that supports natural body alignment and promotes blood circulation. It must not be too soft nor too hard. A memory foam is a good investment for your child’s healthy sleep.

According to sleep experts, sleeping in a room with a temperature of 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit can help attain optimal sleep. The body’s temperature drops when it’s preparing to sleep. Keeping the bedroom in a cool atmosphere facilitates this sleeping phase.

Putting kids to sleep is an Achilles’ heel for any parent. It takes a lot of patience and may require creativity. But never give up. You need to keep in mind the impact of sleeping disorders on your child’s physical and mental health. Teaching your child proper bedtime habits will prepare him/her to be a disciplined adult.

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