About a third of kids suffer from sleep disorders, including difficulty falling asleep, problems staying asleep, and poor quality sleep. In kids with special needs, that number can be as high as 80%.
That’s alarming, because not only does your child need good, consistent sleep to do well in school and in social settings, but sleep is also vital for childhood growth and development. Poor sleep can also lead to more colds and other illnesses, along with irritability and moodiness.
As a leading pediatrics practice in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, Nevada Pediatric Specialists makes your child’s health a priority, helping kids and their parents do everything they can to support optimal growth and development. In this post, our team outlines some of the reasons why your child might be having trouble sleeping through the night and what you can do to help.
Common causes of childhood sleep problems
Understanding why your child is having trouble sleeping can play an important role in overcoming challenges so your child can finally get the rest they need.
Like adults, many kids have worries and anxieties that keep them up at night. There can be stress about school, friends, family issues, or peer pressure. Having an open discussion with your child about these worries is an important first step in finding a resolution.
Fear of the dark
This childhood fear is very common — so common that many parents may not take it seriously. But fear of darkness is definitely real to your child. Using a night light or keeping their door open can help them feel more secure.
Just as its name implies, children can experience increased anxiety caused by separation from a person, pet, or place that represents security. Many kids have separation anxiety when it’s time to start school, but some kids have anxiety at night when they “separate” from the family unit temporarily for sleep.
Many people think snoring is an issue that only affects adults, but kids can have nighttime breathing issues, too. These problems can be associated with being overweight, having asthma or allergies, or having problems affecting their sinuses or airways. Getting a medical evaluation is important for finding a treatment that works.
Most people have bad dreams from time to time, but adults can (usually) rationalize the dream and fall back to sleep. With kids, that’s not so easy. While an occasional nightmare typically isn’t anything to be worried about, you should discuss chronic nightmares with your child’s doctor.
5 tips to help your child catch their Zs
Fortunately, many sleep problems can be resolved with just a little effort. These tips can help.
Set a routine
Establishing a routine helps your child ease into bedtime so the transition isn’t so jarring, dramatic, or disruptive. The routine should include a regular bedtime and relaxing activities, like taking a warm bath, reading a book together, or listening to a calming book on tape.
Keep the TV and computer off before bed, and don’t allow your child to fall asleep with the TV or computer on in the background. Put the phone to bed, too, by charging it in another room.
Optimize their room for sleep
Keep the room dark and cool to encourage deep sleep. Keep the noise level in the rest of the home at a minimum too. Let your child choose a favorite stuffed toy to snuggle with, and consider letting them choose a comforter or blanket, too.
Keep before-bed play low key
Turn off the TV, computer, and video games an hour before bedtime to give your child a chance to wind down. Have your child choose a calm, low-key activity, like reading or quiet play time. Avoid physical play, like running or climbing, which could make it more difficult for your child to wind down for bed.
Be careful with bedtime snacks
Bedtime snacks are a ritual for many kids, but what you feed your child could make it harder for them to fall asleep. Skip sugary snacks and avoid large meals close to bedtime. Avoid highly acidic foods that can cause heartburn and reflux when your child is lying down. And, of course, avoid any food or drink with caffeine for at least six hours before bedtime.
Help your child get a good night’s rest
These tips can help relieve many common types of sleep problems among kids, but if your child continues to have problems sleeping, it’s time to schedule a visit. To learn how we can help, call 702-457-5437 or book an appointment online with Nevada Pediatric Specialists today.