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Childhood Insomnia Johnny Won't Go To Sleep Stephens, Betsy, “Solutions for Kids’ Sleep Prob- lems”, Parents.com, https://www.parents.com/ toddlers-preschoolers/sleep/issues/solutions-for- kids-sleep-problems/ Iannelli, Vincent, “Childhood Insomnia Causes and Treatment”, VeryWell Family, https://www.very- wellfamily.com/insomnia-and-children-2634255 855 Moro Drive Gilroy • gokids.org gmhtoday.com d o Ki s, I G Fa Article Brought To You By: april/may 2019 Sources: GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN bedtime routine, even on weekends and holidays, and stop stimulating activities, such as screens of any kind, thirty to sixty minutes before bedtime. Make your child’s bedtime routine a little boring by reading books that are a little too young for him or that he knows by heart. Using “bedtime passes” is especially helpful for kids who use delaying tactics or who get up in the middle of the night. Give your child two passes to get up for a drink, a hug, or a bathroom visit after lights out. Praise him when he uses the passes, but put him back in his bed with little emotion if he gets up without it. Unused passes can be traded in for a reward the next day to give him extra incentive. Whether you need to make some behavioral changes, treat a medical issue, or find a psychologist to help with your child’s insomnia, the key to success for all of these approaches is consistency. As long as parents are committed to their pediatrician’s advice, and they place high value on their kids’ sleeping habits, they’re on their way to sounder sleep and healthier children. 74 We live in a non-stop world where chil- dren are overscheduled with afterschool activities and tons of homework, which causes bedtimes to be pushed back later and later. If there’s too much going on right before bedtime, children get over- stimulated and can’t fall asleep, leading to the delaying tactics they often employ. Parents who work all day may be fine pushing back bedtimes or prolonging bedtime routines in order to spend time with their kids. Unfortunately, this usually leads to children becoming overly reliant on their parents to fall asleep, so that when they wake up in the middle of the night they struggle to go back to sleep by themselves. Anxiety, stress, or depression can also trigger insomnia. Something like a big move, a switch from pre-school to kindergarten, or trouble with friends at school, can lead to sleeplessness. Sometimes insomnia is a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or narcolepsy. All of these can cause fragmented sleep, where kids wake up several times a night for ten to twenty minutes or more. Allergies, such as hay fever, and conditions like eczema and asthma, have also been shown to lead to sleeplessness due to the discomfort they cause. The medications to treat allergies have been known to cause insomnia in children too. Unless it’s approved by a pediatrician, it’s best to avoid using prescription medications to treat insomnia. If the root of your child’s insomnia is something medical or psychological, sleeping pills will only mask the problem, not solve it. If your child is experiencing sleep problems for more than a few days, it’s important to consult a pediatrician right away to figure out what’s going on. However, a few general tips that help with insomnia are to keep a consistent T he three a.m. visits, the requests for an extra bedtime story or a glass of water. Chances are you’ve dealt with at least one of these with your kids. Many parents chalk sleep troubles up to a normal phase kids go through, and while every child will experience insomnia at some point, too many restless nights might be a sign of something serious. When it comes to sleep troubles, tackling the issue sooner is better than later. There are many differing opinions about what classifies as childhood insomnia, but most pediatric sleep specialists agree that it is generally considered insomnia when the sleep issues cause problems during waking hours. Symptoms of insomnia can include irritability, mood swings, hyper- activity—which often gets misdiagnosed as ADHD— aggression, decreased attention span, or memory problems. Toddlers need between twelve and fourteen hours of sleep, and pre-schoolers need around eleven to thirteen hours. If they constantly get less than this, they can experience a drop in IQ that is similar to a child who has lead poisoning. If the sleep deficit persists for too long, children’s brains start to lose the capability to form the connections needed for retaining new knowledge, memories, and skills, at a time when they need these skills the most. Since sleep also plays an integral role in metabolic functions, frequent sleep disruptions can increase the risk of obesity and cardiovascular troubles as well. The longer kids experience insomnia, the more their brains adapt to enduring sleeplessness, until eventually their bodies consider it a normal way of functioning. Childhood insomnia can be caused by a wide variety of things. More often than not, the root of it is behavioral. e m il y S