As a parent, there are times when your child may struggle to sleep at night. Although it’s common for infants and toddlers to have difficulty falling asleep, the issue can also affect kids at different ages. There are a few common causes to be aware of to ensure you can find the right techniques and treatments available.
1. Separation Anxiety
Many children go through a phase of separation anxiety where they’re afraid to sleep without their parents. This is common for kids who have spent a lot of time co-sleeping with their parents and are finding it difficult to separate and transition into their own bedroom.
If your child has a hard time falling asleep in their own room, spend time comforting them without rewarding them by bringing them back to your bed. Start creating a routine they can look forward to each night and prep them in advance to ensure they’re prepared.
You can also help them pick out their own bed, bedspread, or sheets to get them excited about sleeping in their own space to make the transition smoother.
2. A Lack of Bedtime Routine
If your child goes to bed at a different time each night, then it can be difficult to expect them to fall asleep quickly. It’s important to establish a bedtime routine as early as possible to ensure it trains their body to fall asleep faster. A consistent bedtime is a key component of improving the child’s quality of sleep at any age. You may also need to adjust how long they sleep during their naps. If children sleep for too long during the day, it can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Creating more order with your child’s schedule will also help the child have a sense of security in the home.
3. Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is rare in children but still occurs due to blocked airways. This often leads to enlarged tonsils and adenoids, which are nasal tissues. If you notice that your child snores loudly, it requires visiting a medical professional to determine if they need to wear a nose mask while sleeping or if they can benefit from surgery.
Snoring can also be caused by stuffiness or allergies, which can disrupt the sleep of other children who also share a room. If the snoring isn’t affecting their sleep, their doctor may not feel it’s necessary to investigate the issue.
4. Night Terrors
It’s common for children to have nightmares when they sleep, which can cause them to scream and become afraid of going to bed at night. Your child may wake up frequently and start screaming or act confused. Always soothe and reassure them to ensure they can get back to bed. You may also need to turn a nightlight on to help them have less fear of staying in their room.
Some children are also prone to sleepwalking, which can cause them to wander to different parts of the house and perform various activities. If this occurs, it’s important to consider installing a camera in their room to monitor if they start to get up in the middle of the night. Adding safety gates and locking doors to certain rooms of the house can also help them remain safe if they’re prone to wandering around. Fortunately, this is usually a stage and is temporary. Many kids outgrow sleepwalking once they enter their teenage years.
5. Too Much Light
Some children struggle to sleep in rooms that are too bright, whether there’s outside light coming through a window or you leave their door cracked. Consider using blackout curtains to create a dim interior setting where they can fall asleep faster. It’s also important to remove any electronics from the room that have lights, which can be distracting for children as they attempt to get shuteye.
Understanding some of the most common causes of why your child may not be sleeping at night can make it easier to start investigating the issue. Working with your child’s doctor can also allow you to discover other options that are available to improve the quality of their sleep.