Many children suffer from different types of sleep problems. In most cases these problems are transient. However, for some children, their sleep problems have a significant negative impact on their daily activities and overall well-being. Often the parents also have trouble sleeping due to their child not being able to sleep at night. This creates a misunderstanding among themselves, causes blaming each other. There is loss of health, work is disrupted, tensions continue. However, many parents do not realize that their child has a sleep problem or is not aware of it, let alone knowing how to solve it.
Children’s sleep problems only attract the attention of their parents when they are not able to study as they are expected, sleep during school, have headaches, attention problems, irritable mood, complaints from school or the child starts showing anger verbally. According to a recent survey, 25 percent of children between the ages of 1 and 5 suffer from various sleep disorders. Sleep problems vary in severity, but in most cases, some treatment is needed. So it is important for parents to know about their children’s sleep problems and symptoms. The most important thing is to know how many hours of normal and quality sleep each child needs daily according to age.
Age-appropriate sleep schedule for baby-
- 1-4 weeks: 16-18 hours.
- 1-4 months: 16-18 hours. (The amount of sleep at night increases at this age.)
- 4 months-1 year: 14-15 hours.
- 1-3 years: 12-14 hours. Periods of sleep more at night, a nap once a day or for a short time.
- 3-6 years: 11-12 hours.
- 8-12 years: 10-12 hours.
- 13-18 years: 6-8 hours of sleep problems in obese children can be divided into 2 parts – Dyssomnia, Parasomnia.
Includes insomnia and hypersomnia. Insomnia is not being able to fall asleep easily after going to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night, waking up very early in the morning or not sleeping at all. Which lasts from a few days to a week, or a few weeks or more, which disrupts the child’s daily activities, creating a lack of fresh sensation in the child, resulting in the child feeling sleepy during the day. May include stress, physical illness (bronchial asthma, allergies or itching, thyroid problems, bone and muscle pain, sore throat, toothache, etc.), mental illness (depression, anxiety), side effects of medications, etc. .
Neurodegenerative diseases such as autism, Asperger’s syndrome, learning disability, hyperactivity disorder, etc. can also cause insomnia in children. Fear of separation from relatives (parents, grandparents, or important caregivers), stress at school, family conflicts, bullying, quarrels with siblings or friends, moving to a new place, new routines, etc. can cause stress in children and can lead to sleep problems. It is often seen that a child does not fall asleep if he does not listen to a certain song or story, even if he lacks caressing, hugging, hugging a certain relative in a certain manner. There is no harm in that, but if it continues for a long time, it will be included in the sleep problem.
Hypersomnia: Hypersomnia is frequent sleep or drowsiness during the day after getting enough sleep at night and feeling tired, having trouble waking up in the morning. Obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, etc. are the causes of hypersomnia.
Parasomnia: The presence of certain behaviors or physiological functions that occur at different stages of sleep or between sleep or between sleep and wakefulness is called parasomnia. Such as nightmares, night terror, sleep walking, bruxism, sleep aneurysm, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome etc.
Nightmare: It can also be called Dream Anxiety Disorder. In this case, the child sees something in the dream that makes him anxious, scared, and restless. This happens in the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase of sleep. In this case, the child can come back from the REM sleep in a fully conscious state and give the details of the dream. This can happen from time to time due to a frightening situation during the day or due to anxiety (e.g. if a family member is sick, before exam or if he receives a threat from someone). It is most common in children aged between 5-6 years. It can also be caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, fever, medications used to treat mental illness, and drug withdrawal.
Night terror: It happens on non-REM sleeps. After 90 minutes of going to bed or every 90 minutes the baby wakes up, gets up from bed, sometimes stands up or walks while asleep. He feels very restless and panicked. Sometimes he feels like crying out loud. This increases his heart and respiratory rate. The child does not understand what to do. Within minutes, however, the baby gradually calms down and falls asleep again. In this case, the child cannot remember what he saw in the dream or even if he does, he can remember very little. This is less observed than nightmares. If someone in the family has this disease, it can be hereditary. It usually starts in infancy and ends there, but sometimes continues after adulthood.
Sleepwalking: This problem makes the child walk in the middle of sleep. This occurs in the deeper stages (stages 3-4) of the non-REM sleep. Usually happens in the first half of the night. It is most common in children aged 5-12 years. Among those who have this problem, 15 out of every 100 children walk in their sleep at least once. Sometimes this problem persists even after growing up. It can be familial or hereditary. They get out of bed while they are asleep, move around, usually walk around with their eyes open, do not answer any questions, and parents find it very difficult to wake them up. Usually, they go back to bed again, with some exceptions. They can’t remember the next day what they did while sleeping at night. In most cases, it lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes. They are a threat to themselves and others. Because, unknowingly, he can do something harmful for himself and others. Parents need to take defensive measures for them. Such as: locking doors and windows, removing risky items, etc.
Sleep apnea: It is scary if a child cannot breathe for 10 seconds or more during sleep. It can be seen that the child is snoring loudly, sleeping with his mouth open, feeling sleepy during the day. Most children do not know they are doing this. Children’s tonsils, adenoids, ear infections also cause frequent sleep disturbances at night. Sleeping during the day, not being able to concentrate on studies and other activities, irritable mood, behavioral problems, heart problems, etc. may occur. So treatment should be taken as soon as possible.
Restless Leg Syndrome: Research says it can affect children as well, although it is known as an adult disease. Children can say that there is a feeling of ‘insects walking on their feet or their ‘feet are squeaking’. They frequently change positions in the bed to relieve discomfort, which interferes with sleep.
Sleep Enuresis or Bed Wetting: After the age of five, if a child gets wet in bed almost every day, even though he does not have any physical problem or disease, then he should understand that he has sleep enuresis. It is more common in boys. Contingency management or the Star Chart method works best for changing these unwanted behaviors. The bell and pad system, bladder training, not drinking tea, coffee just before going to bed, drinking less water in the evening, emptying the bladder at certain times of the day with an alarm clock, etc are the most popular and effective for their treatment. If all the procedures are followed together, 99% of the patients get significant improvement. Moreover, imipramine works well among tricyclic antidepressants, which should be taken in accordance with a doctor’s prescription.
Bruxism: Grinding, gnashing, or clenching the teeth is referred to as Bruxism. Having bruxism means, one can unconsciously clench or grit his teeth while awake (awake bruxism) or while sleeping (sleep bruxism). This sleep-related movement disorder is known as bruxism. Many people think that this is because of helminthiasis. But, it happens when there is stress, anxiety or any dental problem. And sleep is severely disrupted. So it has been included in sleep problems. However, it can also damage the teeth, tongue, jaw and inner part of the cheeks. So this problem should be taken seriously.
Sleep is essential for every human life. Good quality sleep is more important for children. This is because, if the child does not get enough sleep, his growth and development may be hindered, various behavioral and emotional problems may arise, attention and memory may be reduced, efficiency may be reduced, the child may start eating more and become obese. So if children have sleep problems, it is very important to identify it first. The cause of this problem must be taken seriously and as soon as possible treatment should be taken from the doctor.
Here are some suggestions on how to reduce sleeping problems:
- First of all you need to create a sleeping environment for the baby – familiar, clean and comfortable bed, keep the bedroom a little or completely dark, sleep in a quiet room.
- For a healthy sleep, you need to create a daily sleep routine, sleep at a certain time every day and wake up at a certain time and get out of bed.
- Exercise regularly, play sports.
Things to avoid
- Exercise for a long time before going to bed, do heavy work, drink tea, coffee.
- watching TV, using mobile phones, reading storybooks, playing games in the bed.
- Excessive sleep during the day.
- Eating heavy meals after 9 pm.
- Spending more time in bed before going to bed, engaging in exciting activity, talking, shouting, watching dramas, watching movies, etc.
- If the baby falls asleep or feels tired or has a sleepy look in his eyes, he should be put to bed.
- Besides this if there is any physical or mental disease, it should be treated accordingly.