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Can Toddlers Have Insomnia

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Behavioural Insomnia Of The Child:

Can toddlers have insomnia? Mine goes to bed late, wakes up a few times, and gets up early.

Behavioural insomnia can happen in young children age 0 to 5 years and can also continue until the child is older. If your child has a Behavioural type insomnia, you may be asking yourself the Why wont my child sleep? Your child might be refusing to go to sleep, take long time for your child to fall asleep, or start waking up during the night. Behavioural Insomnia is thought to be caused by unhealthy habits during the evenings that are coinciding with when sleep should start. Parents may also have difficulties setting limits or effectively disciplining their child when it comes to sleep, which may contribute to Behavioural Insomnia.

During the night, children experience a brief arousals that occurs at the end of each 60- to 90- minute sleepcycle. This is normal. They may also awaken throughout the nightfor other reasons and not able to get back to sleep unless they get what they received in the past to help fallasleep. In Madis case, this was breast feeding. We hit a wall where shewould not fall back asleep in the night unless I got up and breastfedher.

The good news is your baby can learn toself-soothe at night!

Why Do Teens Have Trouble Sleeping

Research shows that teens need at least 8½ hours of sleep a night. You don’t need to be a math whiz to figure out that if you wake up for school at 6:00 a.m., you’d have to go to bed at 9:00 p.m. to reach the 9-hour mark. Studies have found that many teens have trouble falling asleep that early, though. It’s not because they don’t want to sleep. It’s because their brains naturally work on later schedules and aren’t ready for bed.

During adolescence, the body’s rhythm is reset, telling a teen to fall asleep later at night and wake up later in the morning. This change in the circadian rhythm seems to happen because a teen’s brain makes the hormone later at night than the brains of kids and adults do.

So, teens have a harder time falling asleep. Sometimes this delay in the sleepwake cycle is so severe that it affects a person’s daily activities. In those cases it’s called delayed sleep phase syndrome or “night owl” syndrome.

This isn’t the only reason teens lose sleep, though. Lots of people have insomnia trouble falling or staying asleep. The most common cause of insomnia is stress. But all sorts of things can lead to insomnia, including physical discomfort , emotional troubles , and even an uncomfortable sleeping environment . Exposing your eyes to excessive light at night through mobile devices, for instance also makes it harder to sleep.


Common sleep problems include:

Causes Of Insomnia In Children

What are some of the possible causes of sleep problems in children? Sometimes insomnia in children can be caused by a medical problem, which is why it is important to go a pediatrician or specialist to make a proper diagnosis. The behavioral and psychological causes most frequent are the following:

Aside from these behavioral problems, there are other causes derived from medical problems that prevent the child from sleeping. Allergies may fragment sleep, while ear infections, colic, and other pains may keep them from sleeping. This is why it is so important to see a doctor to find the underlying cause.

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Common Sleep Disorders In Children

KEVIN A. CARTER, DO, Martin Army Community Hospital, Fort Benning, Georgia

NATHANAEL E. HATHAWAY, MD, SHAPE Healthcare Facility, Mons, Belgium

CHRISTINE F. LETTIERI, MD, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland

Am Fam Physician. 2014 Mar 1 89:368-377.

Sleep is one of the most commonly discussed topics during well-child visits.1 It is important for primary care physicians to be familiar with normal childhood sleep patterns and common sleep disorders. Epidemiologic studies indicate that up to 50% of children experience a sleep problem,24 and about 4% have a formal sleep disorder diagnosis.5


Sleep disorders should be considered in children presenting with irritability, behavioral problems, learning difficulties, and poor academic performance.

Clinical recommendationEvidence ratingReferences

Adenotonsillectomy is the primary treatment for children with obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep or sedating medications have no role in the treatment of behavioral insomnia of childhood.

If restless legs syndrome is suspected in a child, management should include a workup for iron deficiency and avoidance of triggers.


Sleep disorders should be considered in children presenting with irritability, behavioral problems, learning difficulties, and poor academic performance.

Better Sleep For Kids

6 Most common causes of insomnia and other sleep disorders ...

Do not underestimate the power of self-help when it comes to adapting your child’s behaviour and environment to improve their sleep, says D’Cruz. She recommends:

  • Avoid napping in the daytime.
  • Dinnertime should be at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Establish a predictable and calming bedtime routine .
  • The bedtime routine should not last more than an hour.
  • Limit light exposure and avoid screen time for a minimum of an hour before bedtime.
  • Children should sleep in their own beds.
  • Bedrooms should be dark, quiet and not too hot.
  • Establish a predictable and calming bedtime routine .

“First, ensure there is no underlying medical cause for the sleep problem and then implement good sleep hygiene,” D’Cruz concludes. “There is a lot of help available online as well as through sleep clinics, while for younger children the health visitor can give advice.”

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Types Of Sleep Disorders In Children

At Hassenfeld Childrens Hospital at NYU Langone, sleep specialists can identify and treat a variety of sleep disorders that may occur during infancy, early childhood, and adolescence. Some types of sleep disorders are related to particular behaviors, whereas others are caused by neurological or other medical conditions.

Signs And Symptoms Of Insomnia

A change in your childs sleeping behaviour like going to bed later than youd like isnt necessarily a sleep problem. But your child might have insomnia if she:

  • lacks energy or constantly feels tired
  • makes excuses to avoid going to bed
  • takes a long time to get to sleep
  • keeps getting out of bed and asking for things
  • keeps waking up throughout the night and cant go back to sleep
  • struggles to wake or refuses to get out of bed in the morning
  • naps for long periods during the day or falls asleep at school
  • struggles to concentrate or remember information
  • sleeps at different times from day to day.

During adolescence, your child starts to release melatonin later at night than he did in childhood. This affects his circadian rhythm and makes him want to go to bed later at night often around 11 pm or later then get up later in the morning.

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Sleep Associations And Hunger: Two Common Causes Of Nighttime Waking

Lots of babies and toddlers wake at night due to sleep associations for those children, the solution is usually to sleep train. Newborns and young infants can often wake at night from hunger in that case, the solution is to offer a feeding.

But what about nighttime waking that isnt so straightforward? This article will highlight 6 possible reasons your baby or toddler is waking at night.

Why Is Sleep Important For Children

Do You Have Insomnia or Sleep Anxiety? Basic Sleep Hygiene | #PaigePradko, #Insomnia, #sleepanxiety

Sleep plays a crucial role in the development of young minds. In addition to having a direct effect on happiness, research shows that sleep impacts alertness and attention, cognitive performance, mood, resiliency, vocabulary acquisition, and learning and memory. Sleep also has important effects on growth, especially in early infancy. In toddlers, napping appears to be necessary for memory consolidation, executive attention, and motor skill development.

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How Much Sleep Do Children Need

To function at their best, children and teens typically need more sleep than adults. The chart below outlines the recommended hours that developing kids should spend asleep.

How many hours of sleep do kids need?
Age group
Infants12 to 16 hours
Toddlers11 to 14 hours
Children10 to 13 hours
Children9 to 12 hours
Teens8 to 12 hours

Can Kids Get Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is not unusual in children 8 years of age and older. This neurological sleep disorder causes a creeping, crawling sensation in the legs that creates an irresistible urge to move.

Studies show that restless legs syndrome may have a strong genetic component. Children with sleep tremors or restless legs syndrome may have difficulty falling asleep. That can result in daytime fatigue and irritability. According to recent studies, ADHD and depression may be more common in those diagnosed with RLS. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about ways to treat RLS in children.

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Restless Legs Syndrome: Seeking Help

Studies estimate that one out of 10 people suffer from restless legs, yet its not always easy to find help and support. Many people with RLS never receive proper treatment. Part of the problem is that its hard to explain and sufferers are often dismissed as being nervous. Those who havent experienced the distressing symptoms may not understand how severely they can impact the quality of your life. Even doctors may not take restless legs seriously, recognize the symptoms, or realize that they point to a real medical condition.

The good news is that recent research has increased our understanding of restless legs syndrome, leading to more effective treatments. At the same time, RLS is becoming more widely recognized. If you or your partner suffers from restless legs, theres never been a better time to find relief.

A night in the life of RLS

If you have restless legs syndrome, a typical night might go like this: You lie down in bed, ready to go to sleep, and just as your body begins to relax, the crawling, tingling, or itching in your legs begin. You try to ignore the uncomfortable sensations, hoping they will go away, but eventually the urge to move is too much. You get out of bed to stretch and pace the floor and, for a moment, you find relief. But when you lie down again, the restless sensations in your legs start all over again.

More Sleep Tips For Under

Insomnia In Children: Causes, Treatment, And Natural Remedies
  • Make sure you have a calming, predictable bedtime routine that happens at the same time and includes the same things every night.
  • If your child complains that they’re hungry at night, try giving them a bowl of cereal and milk before bed .
  • If your child is afraid of the dark, consider using a nightlight or leaving a landing light on.
  • Do not let your child look at laptops, tablets or phones in the 30 to 60 minutes before bed the light from screens can interfere with sleep.
  • If your child wakes up during the night, be as boring as possible leave lights off, avoid eye contact and do not talk to them more than necessary.
  • Avoid long naps in the afternoon.

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What Causes Sleep Problems In Children

“There are several causes of sleep problems in children that may be specific to certain age groups, such as gastric oesophageal reflux in babies, and night terrors in very young children or toddlers,” explains Dr Sonali D’Cruz, a paediatrician with the NHS and the Runnymede Clinic in Surrey.

“As children approach school age, poor sleep may be a result of medical problems such as enlarged adenoids causing obstructive sleep apnoea, non-allergic rhinitis and bedwetting. While problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism are also known to be associated with disturbed sleep, and anxiety can also be an important underlying cause.”

Sleep problems can also affect older children, she points out.

“In older children and adolescents, delayed sleep phase syndrome , excessive use of digital media and poor bedtime routines are also significant contributory factors to sleep problems.”

What to do when your child can’t sleep

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Signs That Your Child Isnt Getting Enough Sleep

Children, just like adults, have trouble controlling their moods when theyre sleep deprived. Sleep, or lack thereof, affects much of a childs behavior and state of mind. In some cases, the symptoms of insufficient sleep can even mimic those of ADHD.

If your child isnt getting enough sleep, they may:

  • Often seem cranky, irritable, or over-emotional.
  • Have trouble concentrating at school or at home? Has a teacher informed you of this problem.
  • Fall asleep while riding in the car.
  • Appear to struggle following conversations or seem to space out a lot.
  • Have trouble waking up or fall back asleep after youve gotten them up for the day.
  • Often become drowsy or crash much earlier than their regular bedtime.

If your child wakes up often in the night, or has trouble settling down, it could mean theyre struggling with insomnia, one of the biggest sleep issues among kids.

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Causes Of Insomnia In Kids

For many children, their difficulties falling or staying asleep stem from their daytime habits or how they spend their time right before bed. Eating too much sugary food during the day, for example, or watching TV right before bed could be enough to disrupt your childs sleep. Of course, younger children especially will have difficulty making the connection between their habits and the quality of their sleep, so youll have to act as a sleep detective on their behalf.

Other common reasons why your child may be experiencing sleep difficulties include

Insomnia and too much time in bed

Sometimes, a childs insomnia may stem from having more time allotted for sleep than they need each night. In these cases, your child could fight their bedtime or wake up in the night or too early in the morning. To find an ideal bedtime, note when your child starts to become drowsy in the evening. Thats the time they should be going to bed, so start their bedtime routine about 45 minutes earlier. If theyre awake much longer, they may start to get a second wind, and then become more difficult to handle.

The Symptoms Of Insomnia In Children

Top 3 Sleep Tips for Children & Teens | Insomnia

In general, children need more sleep than adults. This varies somewhat based on age. When sleep is needed, a child will simply fall asleep and get it. A newborn baby may sleep 16 hours in a 24-hour period, with short periods of sleep and wakefulness scattered through the day and night. By the age of 3, the amount of sleep needed averages closer to 12 hours. It is best to optimize the amount of time in bed overnight to meet these sleep needs. Younger children may take 1-2 naps during the day to get adequate rest. By the age of 4 or 5, however, most children will stop taking daytime naps.

Children who do not sleep enough begin to have behavioral and health problems. Imagine how you feel after a bad night of sleepand then multiple it in magnitude without adequate coping skills or even ways to verbalize your frustrations. Children become cranky, refuse to cooperate with simple requests, cry more, and suffer from complete meltdowns and tantrums. Older children may begin to have problems at school, with poor attention, hyperactivity, and impaired school performance.

Beyond simply being unable to fall asleep, other aspects of behavior and even growth spiral out of control.

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What Is Behavioral Insomnia In Children Types Prevalence Treatment

Posted byDr. Angela Randazzo on Jun 20, 2018 5:00:00 PM

Quality sleep is extremely important in the physiological, cognitive, and emotional development of children. At different stages of a child’s development sleep needs to change. In order to help children get as much quality sleep as possible, parents should have a strong understanding of the sleep requirements necessary for their children at various stages in their lives.

One study found that approximately 27% of children are sleeping less than is recommended for their age. Sleep debt in children can lead to an array of consequences including inattention, irritability, hyperactivity, impulse control problems, behavioral issues at home and school, learning troubles, and overall quality of life.

Poor sleep in children often leads to sleep troubles for the parents as well. When children frequently wake in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep, most parents respond by waking up themselves and helping soothe them back to sleep. Over time both the parents and the children can become sleep deprived.

Of all the potential sleep disorders found in young children, Behavioral insomnia is the most frequently cited, surpassing other sleep disorders including breathing disorders like sleep apnea , sleep-related movement disorders such as restless leg syndrome , and parasomnias such as night terrors .

What Is A Sleep Study

An overnight sleep study, or polysomnography, may be recommended for your child, especially if they have excessive daytime sleepiness, problems staying asleep, or OSA. The sleep study will help determine if your child has a diagnosable problem such as pure snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or another sleep problem. These disorders may require specific therapy that your child’s doctor will prescribe or your child might be sent to a specialist who may be able to help.

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