Night wakings can be a common occurrence in children, but if they persist for a long time or start to lead to serious sleep deprivation symptoms, it’s time to take action. Here are just a few common causes of childhood sleep issues and what you can do about them.
1. Sleep Disorders
Sleep disorders can affect all ages, including insomnia, sleep apnea, sleepwalking, and night terrors. While some conditions are easy to diagnose, others might be more insidious, including a specific type of behavioral insomnia that’s common in childhood. If you suspect that your child has a sleep disorder, you’ll need to talk to your pediatrician and get a referral to a sleep specialist. Fixes can include everything from medication to more regular and structured bedtime routines.
2. Blue Light Exposure
You might be familiar with the hazards of blue light near bedtime. It decreases melatonin, the hormone needed for sleep, and it increases alertness and overall cognitive function in the brain. Adults aren’t the only ones who are affected by blue light; it has the same impact on children, and they’re especially vulnerable to the disruptions that blue light can cause to their circadian rhythms. Try to limit screen time to at least an hour before your child goes to sleep. This includes phones, TVs, and tablets.
3. Poor Mattress Quality
The most obvious signs of a bad mattress are things like sagging, uneven lumps, and squeaking and creaking as it shifts around the frame. However, there can be other issues affecting it as well. Dust mites, for example, can populate by the millions in beds and blankets, leading to allergy-like reactions that keep your child awake at night. You might consider investing in a new, hypoallergenic mattress for your little one, including one made with enhanced comfort like memory foam layers. Just make sure that you’re purchasing it from a reputable retailer or franchise.
4. Behavioral Problems
Last but not least, not all sleep problems are physical. Some are psychological. Children might be bored, scared, or lonely when they’re in bed at night. They might engage in impulsive or attention-seeking behaviors like coming to get you every time they wake up. You’ll have to figure out exactly what’s going on in order to fix it. For instance, a nightlight can help a child who’s afraid of the dark.
These are just a few reasons why your child might be tossing and turning at night. There are many more; sleep issues can be just as unique as the person experiencing them. You might have to try various solutions until you find the one that sticks.