We may all face difficulties in sleeping, and insomnia is not a problem if it occurs from time to time, but if sleep becomes a challenge on a daily basis, this is insomnia that needs to find a solution, which is a sleep disorder that affects children and adults.
The person goes through his sleep in several stages: The first is light sleep, which is that the person drifts to sleep and leaves it while he is aware of what surrounds him, the second stage which is when the eye movement stops and brain waves slow down and the heart rate is the stage where the body prepares for deep sleep.
Then comes the deep sleep phase, which is the stage in which a person dreams and nightmares or walking during sleep occurs, and complaints of insomnia are usually associated with a lack of deep sleep, which is either that you sleep and wake up without reaching this stage, or that you wake up during which the body does not take its full needs from this stage from sleeping.
This stage of sleep has many benefits for the body, for example, during which the body repairs its tissues, build bones and muscles, and strengthens the immune system.
Good sleep is very important in the physiological, cognitive and emotional development of children, and one study has found that approximately 27% of children sleep less than what is recommended for their age.
A child who suffers from insomnia says he has difficulty sleeping at night, or complains that he wakes up early at three in the morning and faces difficulty returning to sleep, and this can lead to a significant impairment of the child’s body functions during the day.
Insomnia may be long-term, during which the child has a sleep problem for at least three weeks, and insomnia may last for a short period of only a few days.
Causes of insomnia in children
Insomnia can be essential, that is, it is in itself the problem, and it may be secondary, that is, it is one of the symptoms of a disease. The following are some of the reasons that cause insomnia in children, whether primary or secondary:
1- Psychological pressure
Psychological pressure is one of the main causes of insomnia in children, especially adolescents, who have some psychological pressure such as: pressure that he is exposed to at school, unrealistic fears of something or a person, and the harassment he is exposed to from some of his peers.
If a child complains of insomnia, he must speak with him to find the reason, and parents of school teachers must always verify that everything is fine there, more importantly, is to make sure that everything in the house works smoothly, and there are no disturbances that threaten The psychological well-being of children and their exposure to stress, the children are very sensitive, and home fights between parents cause them extreme discomfort and keeps them awake at night.
2- Psychological and physical disorders
Children with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety tend to experience difficulties sleeping too, and there are some other medical conditions that the child cannot sleep, such as: muscle cramps, fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, and other chronic problems .
Also, influenza, chronic asthma, and other respiratory disorders may also keep the child awake during the night for up to weeks. Children who have behavioral disorders such as sleep disorders also suffer.
Certain medications, such as those used to treat depression and anxiety, can have side effects that negatively affect eating and sleep habits in children.
3- Excessive caffeine intake
Drinks that contain a high level of caffeine can also prevent the child from sleeping well during the night, this is especially so for teenagers who drink soft drinks that contain a high level of caffeine. Nicotine may also cause teenagers who smoke to sleep.
4- The lack of a suitable sleeping environment
A quiet environment is necessary for sleeping without obstructions. The problem increases if your child sleeps lightly. He may have trouble staying asleep when the atmosphere is not suitable, and he may wake up from his sleep from the slightest voice or movement next to him.
Symptoms of developing insomnia in children
In general, children need more sleep than adults, and this varies based on age. The newborn may sleep 16 hours a day.
At the age of 3 years the sleep rate reaches about 12 hours per day, and children at this age stage may get one or two naps during the day to obtain adequate rest, and with the age of four or five, most children will stop taking the nap.
Symptoms of insomnia begin to appear in children who do not sleep enough, and these symptoms include:
1- Waking up early in the morning, perhaps waking up at or before dawn without being able to return to sleep.
2- Not being able to pay attention to the tasks required of him at home or at school.
3- Making strange and unjustified mistakes that indicate a lack of focus, and that he faces memory problems.
4- The child becomes very aggressive and nervous.
5- Feeling tired and exhausted all the time.
6- Feeling sleepy and wanting to sleep during the day.
These symptoms can also indicate other diseases such as colds, influenza, anemia, autoimmune disorders and diabetes, so a medical examination must be done to exclude these diseases when the child’s previous symptoms appear
Treating insomnia in children
Treatment of insomnia in children is mostly through good home care and the creation of an enabling environment for sleep. Medicines for insomnia are not prescribed to children and adolescents, except in special cases when this is the only way that there is no other way for a child to get enough sleep.
How do you help your child who suffers from insomnia?
There are some natural methods and home care that helps to combat insomnia without access to sleep medications, as well as teaching children to sleep naturally and without external assistance, and their continuous training in healthy sleep habits can protect the child from insomnia.
Among these ways you can help your child:
- There are some scents that relax the nerves and help you to relax that you can put alongside your child’s bed, such as dried chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, and lemon balm.
- These scents can be left beside your child’s bed.
- A cup of warm milk can be calming and help the child sleep.
- Giving him a cup of unsweetened chamomile before bedtime, can be comfortable and stimulating to sleep.
- A warm bath with a few drops of lavender or chamomile oil can have a calming effect on the child, and help the body relax and sleep.
- Magnesium deficiency prevents the brain from relaxing at night, so eating foods rich in magnesium such as almonds, pumpkin seeds and green leafy vegetables before bed help to combat insomnia.