Remember the time when you tossed and turned in bed, but still couldn’t manage to sleep? Insomnia can be frustrating in many ways, and can literally drain your energy. Imagine your toddler facing the same! Yes, insomnia can affect toddlers too, and is a rather important health concern that needs to be handled carefully.
Keep reading to know more about insomnia in toddlers, its possible causes, and know if your toddler too, could be affected by it.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a general term used to denote the inability to sleep. Some sleep specialists believe that toddlers may be affected by one of the two major types of insomnia- sleep onset association insomnia or limit setting insomnia.
Sleep onset association insomnia is most commonly observed in children under 5 years of age, and is characterized by interruptions in sleep during the night. Children affected by this disorder wake up 10-12 times in the night and then fall back asleep.
Limit setting insomnia is usually observed in children older than 5 years, and such children tend to prolong bedtime by different possible means such as demanding a glass of water or asking for an explanation of what happens when the toilet flushes. (1)
Common Causes Of Insomnia In Toddlers:
- Stress: Stress isn’t just for adults, many toddlers too, can be prone to stress, particularly toddlers who have just started playschool and are learning to adapt themselves to the new environment. In some cases, the arrival of a new sibling, job changes, moving and shifting, death in the family, illness of a family member or marital and financial problems may also cause stress in toddlers, which may in turn, affect the sleep quality.
- Environmental Conditions: The lack of a comfortable atmosphere can also affect the ability of the toddler to sleep well. Heat, noise, light conditions, tough mattresses and other environmental factors may trigger an inability to sleep.
- Medical Conditions: Conditions such as asthma, stuffy nose, skin allergies such as eczema and other pre-existing health problems such as growing pains, heartburn, fibromyalgia, muscle cramps etc can also cause insomnia in toddlers. Psychiatric conditions such as mental retardation, Asperger’s syndrome, autism, bipolar disorder and depression may also cause sleep troubles in toddlers.
- Medications: Insomnia can also be a side effect of the use of certain medications such as those prescribed to tackle attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, corticosteroids, antidepressants and anticonvulsants.
- Other Factors: The consumption of clear soda, fizzy drinks and caffeine rich drinks such as tea and coffee can also be the cause of insomnia in toddlers. (2)
Signs And Symptoms Of Insomnia In Toddlers:
The toddler insomnia symptoms can be identified by observing your toddler closely.Some common symptoms he may present include:
- Difficulty falling asleep after being put to bed
- Chronically tired
- Groggy and distracted most of the time
- Erratic behavior
- Hyperactivity (in some cases)
- Inability to go back to sleep once awake
- Waking up early in the morning or in the night (3)
Management And Treatment:
As a parent,there are several steps you can take to manage insomnia in your toddler.Toddler insomnia symptoms can be cured by taking these steps.
- Try to establish a sleep schedule- put your toddler to bed at the same time everyday.
- Avoid daytime napping.
- Restrict the consumption of caffeinated beverages during the night, particularly a while before bedtime.
- Limit recreational activities and entertainment closer to bedtime. (4)
Also try creating a calming and soothing atmosphere in your toddler’s room, which will make it easier for him to fall asleep. Use of gadgets should be restricted just before bedtime. Thus by knowing the toddler insomnia symptoms and taking these steps some damage control can be done.
You may also want to have your toddler examined by a sleep specialist or a pediatrician to know about the root cause of his insomnia.
Did these management tips help you establish a healthy sleep routine for your toddler? Let us know in the comments box below.