Top Reasons Your Kid Can’t Sleep
Every parent knows that if your kid can’t sleep that you don’t get to sleep, either. Obviously, your child’s wellbeing comes first and you want her to sleep because she needs plenty of rest for her growing body and developing mind. You, as an adult, can always turn to coffee when your child has a rough night but she can’t, and just has to tough out a day at school on a bad night’s rest and zero caffeine. Furthermore, you can also only survive on caffeine for so long so, for everyone’s sake, you need your precious offspring to clock in those zzz’s. But when children don’t sleep well, it can be tougher to get to the bottom of their snoozing woes than it can be for adults. When you don’t sleep well, you know why—it was that third glass of wine, that discussion you had with your boss, or that impending credit card bill. With children, it’s a bit trickier, but here are some reasons your kid can’t sleep.
You carry her to bed, asleep
Don’t let your little one fall asleep on the couch and then carry her to her bed, sound asleep. When she wakes up and finds herself in a new location, this can alarm her and cause her to call for you. Instead, take your child to bed when she becomes tired, but is still awake.
She doesn’t have a routine
It’s important that your child has a bedtime routine that stays consistent and happens at the same time each night. This routine (it could involve taking a bath, then hearing a story) will train her brain to understand it’s time to power down.
Remember that sometimes kids just don’t want to go to sleep, so they procrastinate. If your kid suddenly has a dozen requests the second she gets in bed (I need water, I need to brush this one part of my teeth better, I’m still hungry) she’s probably just procrastinating. Don’t give into these requests, and your child will stop putting off bedtime.
She doesn’t nap
Young children, up to age five, need to nap at least once a day in order to sleep well at night. If they skip naptime, they can wind up wired at night, and this can throw off their entire sleep cycle.
An open window
If your child is snoring or has loud breathing at night, but her doctor has not identified sleep apnea, then she may have seasonal allergies. Do you leave the window open for her? Is the ceiling fan thoroughly dusted? Irritants in the air may be keeping her up at night.
Certain ADHD medications can make it difficult for children to sleep. If your child is taking one of these, talk to her doctor about changing the dosage or formula to something that won’t interfere with sleep.
An overly stimulating room
You want to decorate your child’s room in a way that she loves, but too many twinkling lights and bright items can make the room over-stimulating for your child. Stick to muted, pastel colors, and only put one small night light in there.
Screen time before bed
Screen time—whether it’s on a laptop, tablet, or phone—before bedtime can keep children and adults awake at night. Stop screen time for your child at least two hours before bed, and make sure she isn’t sneaking any in in bed.
Ignoring her body clock
Remember that as kids become teenagers, their body clock changes. Teenagers are more alert at night, and aren’t really morning people. If your child wants to do an extracurricular activity, maybe have her do it after school rather than before it so she can sleep in a bit in the morning.
Not enough attention
It may be time to ask yourself a tough question: do you spend enough time with your child? Some children who feel they don’t get enough one on one time with their parents find they can get a little extra attention at bedtime, so that’s when they ask lots of questions, and prolong bedtime stories.
If your child is watching content that is a little beyond what’s appropriate for her age range, it may be giving her nightmares, or just keeping her up with questions about what she saw. Make sure to follow the guidelines on suggested age limits for shows.
If you generally run to your child every time she asks for your attention—even when it isn’t important—then she’ll do this at night, too. Easing up on the coddling may teach your child that she needs to learn to soothe herself at night.
You’re too loud
It’s quite possible that the rest of the house is just too loud. If you put your child to bed at 8 or 9pm, but you and your partner do laundry, run the garbage disposal, or play music after that, you may be keeping your child awake.
Pay attention to the concerns that keep your child up at night. Is she worried she didn’t put all her toys back in the exact right place? Or didn’t brush one particular tooth? Or that she might have seen a spider somewhere in the house? Obsessive compulsive disorder can plague kids, just as they can adults, but can be treated in therapy.
Worry about not sleeping
While it is important that your child gets sleep, it’s also important that you don’t make her fear what will happen if she doesn’t sleep enough. Sometimes, we can talk to kids about sleep with such urgency that they then worry about not sleeping enough, which can keep them awake.