Overview: All kids have trouble sleeping at some point, but for some it is a serious problem. Insomnia is characterized by persistent difficulties falling or staying asleep. For children and adolescents with insomnia the problems caused by lack of sleep bleed into other areas of life, causing behavioral issues, impacting their social and school lives, and making it difficult to function normally.

Symptoms:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at bedtime
  • Repeatedly waking up during the night and struggling to go back to sleep without adult intervention
  • Waking up too early and being unable to fall back to sleep

Problems insomnia may cause:

  • Worry about going to bed and being able to fall asleep
  • Being tired during the day
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Accidental injuries  

Causes:

Insomnia can be a result of another psychological or physical disorder and can be triggered by stress, major life changes or traumatic events. Sleep issues can also be caused by medications. If your child is having trouble sleeping she should be evaluated by a professional who can help determine if her insomnia exists on its own or is a symptom of a larger issue.

Treatment:

Help at Home  If you think your child may have insomnia there are a number of helpful interventions you can try at home:

  • Set a regular bedtime
  • Restrict caffeinated foods and drinks
  • Manage your child’s environment: Make sure clocks and screens are hidden, find a comfortable temperature and do your best to reduce noise and light
  • Help children learn relaxation techniques

Therapy:

A cognitive behavioral therapist can work with you and your child to help him learn to manage stressors and form new sleep habits. Medication is rarely recommended for children and adolescents with insomnia.

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