Lots of kids (and adults!) don’t sleep well at night. Of course, this affects their functioning, their behavior, their health and their mood in negative ways.
If your child has disturbed sleep, consider the following tips:
There are Many Reasons for Disturbed Sleep
Some causes of disturbed sleep are physical in nature while others are stress-related or caused by various mental health conditions. For instance, depression can cause a teenager to wake up at 2a.m. and remain awake for a couple of hours, or cause her to wake up at 4:30a.m. and not be able to get back to sleep at all. Anxiety can cause youngsters to have trouble falling asleep or cause them to have restless sleep. Stress can interfere in similar ways and yes, even children have stress! In fact, kids can be disturbed by many life events such as the condition of their parents’ marriage, starting a new grade or new school, having social problems, worrying about academic performance and on and on.
If your child is waking up many times in the night or not feeling rested in the morning, then make sure he or she is seen by a medical doctor. Before assuming stress is the culprit, rule out physical causes of sleep disturbance such as drug use, caffeine sensitivity, hormonal difficulties, health issues, sleep apnea, allergies, restless leg syndrome, nightmare disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Lyme’s Disease, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, Tourette’s Disorder and so on. Your doctor may refer your child to a sleep disorders clinic for further assessment. If your child is physically and mentally well and still experiencing sleep disturbances, consider having him tested for food intolerances. Also consider an assessment by a mental health professional. Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome and related disorders of stress can go undetected by parents while a child psychologist will readily be able to diagnose such conditions.
Many Times, No Reason is Discovered
Many people of all ages who suffer from various types of disturbed sleep never receive a diagnosis of any kind. If your child is fully assessed and no reason is discovered for his poor quality of sleep, do take advantage of the many types of alternative medicine that people have found useful. For instance, many people benefit from herbal medicine when it comes to sleep issues. A qualified herbalist can prepare teas and syrups for children that can help improve the quality of sleep. Also, acupuncturists, homeopaths, nutritionists, cranial sacral practitioners, chiropractors and other naturopathic healers each have something to contribute when it comes to improving sleep.
Sometimes, however, no one is able to help. If this is the case, there is still help available! Twenty minutes of deep relaxation can be equivalent to many hours of restful sleep. Have a specialist teach your child techniques for deep relaxation. This specialist may be a child psychologist, medical doctor, professional relaxationi teacher, yoga instructor, hypnotherapist or other type of practitioner. Meditation is equivalent to deep relaxation and there are many child-friendly types of meditation that can help the system calm down and discharge stress. In addition, there are many types of recordings available to help children sleep better including hypnotic-type CD’s & MP3’s, guided imagery, bilateral stimulation products and more. If the child is not getting restful sleep, he can still get deep and healing rest using these kinds of products and techniques.