How Can a Family Help a Child or Teen Suffering from Insomnia?
Insomnia is not exclusive to adults — children and teens experience it too, and when it happens on a regular basis and long periods of time, it really needs to be addressed as a problem.
Child and Teen Insomnia Should be Taken Seriously
Research found that insomnia in teens has a big chance of being caused by depression or a panic disorder. In fact, 350 high school students from grades 7 to 12 were chosen as participants in this study that was conducted in South Australia, and the results also showed that when insomnia is treated early, the onset of depression could be prevented. According to previous studies, about 47% of depression cases were prevented if insomnia was determined and treated earlier.
Problems with sleep have always been detected in people that have already been diagnosed with depression or with an anxiety disorder, which is why insomnia has been assumed as a symptom associated with the said conditions. But recent research studies in insomnia among children and teens suggest that an irregularity in sleep may actually be a precursor to depression or anxiety, and that’s why insomnia among children and teens should really be taken seriously.
The symptoms of insomnia among children and adolescents include a non-restorative sleep; this is the kind of sleep that leaves you feeling more tired when you wake up instead of being well-rested. Insomniac children and teens also have trouble falling asleep easily, falling back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night, waking up very early in the morning, or sleepwalking.
When you notice that your child or teen experiences those things on a daily basis for about a month or so, then you should already consider having them checked by a sleep expert or a primary care physician for an evaluation or a treatment option.
How Can You Help?
Here are different ways you can help your child or teenager suffering from insomnia.
Determine the Cause
Before you get to the solution, you should first know where the problem is coming from. Try to know the possible reasons why your child is having trouble with sleep. For example, if you find out that your child is feeling stressed because of school, you need to address the stressors first to make insomnia go away. School is one of the most common stressors for children and teens.
Help Your Child Eliminate the Stressor
If you find out that it’s because of stress with school, you need to teach or guide them on how they can effectively manage their schoolwork, activities, and the demands of their academics. If you need to talk to your child’s teacher to help you manage the problem, then you should.
Another cause may be poor time management since children and teens are still learning to manage their time effectively and may need you to guide them. You may help them prioritize their tasks or limit their unproductive time like watching TV or tinkering away on their gadgets.
Teach Them Good Sleeping Habits
If you teach your child good sleeping hygiene habits while they are still young, it’s very likely it will stick with them until they’re old. Good sleeping habits can greatly help a person maintain a healthy and restorative sleep. Let your child use their bed for sleep alone — this means that they should read, do their homework, and watch the television in other places. You should also help them maintain a regular sleeping schedule like setting a schedule for them to go to bed and wake each day.
Other habits include avoiding drinks with caffeine about 4 to 6 hours before their bedtime. You should also teach them to avoid doing stimulating activities like playing computer or video games, watching television, or using their phone about an hour before they go to bed.
Make Sure They Have a Comfortable Sleeping Environment
There are only a few people who can still soundly sleep in a cluttered environment, and we doubt that your child is one of them. Maintaining a sleeping environment that is quiet, comfortable, and dark could help lead them into a deep sleep. You should also avoid giving discussion or having arguments about provoking issues just before bedtime.
Sleep is a vital process. It shuts our body down, so it can reboot and be ready for the next day. Make sure to start a conversation in your family on the importance of sleep and determine whether you have a child that is suffering from insomnia.
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