What causes Child Sleep Problems?

Updated at: Sep 12, 2011
What causes Child Sleep Problems?

Kids (4-7) - Child sleep problems can be caused by a number of factors ranging from bad habits to some medical problem. Try and find out what causes sleep problems in your child in order to remedy the situation.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Tips for ParentWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Sep 12, 2011

Most children have the ability to sleep through the night if you try to establish a consistent bed time schedule and make the environment conducive to sleeping. But if your child continues to have sleeping problems, try to find the cause of the problem. Do not attribute it to your child being difficult. Like in adults, there are several reasons due to which a child can have sleep problems. Read on to know a few possible reasons for what causes kids sleep problems.


Your child wants physical contact


After sharing their bed with the parents, many children may find it difficult to sleep without the warmth of a parent's physical contact. Co-sleeping is acceptable and comfortable till your child is an infant or toddler but by 2-3 years it is advisable to  put the child in her/his own bed. So if you want to teach your child to sleep in his bed, try and gradually increase space and decrease physical contact between your child and you while sleeping at night. A good way is to get a sidecar bed until your child is ready to sleep alone in her/his room and bed.

Is s/he anxious or stressed


Did the sleep problem start after starting school or day care, or after you started your job again? If yes, then your child is feeling insecure and stressed out. Like adults even children can have sleeping problems due to stress or anxiety. Stress or anxiety in children can cause repeated night time awakening, difficulty in sleeping, nightmares, night terror, and bedwetting. Most children overcome these problems with love, support and care in sometime. But if the problem persists, consult her/his paediatrician.


Your child may be afraid


Children have many fears such as fear of the dark, thoughts of monsters under the bed, ghosts in the closet. All these seem trivial to adults but are really frightening for the child and can cause sleep problems. Reassure him that he is safe, talk to him about his fears and reassure that you are in the next room and will be with him when needed. In addition make his room conducive for good night sleep like (have a night lamp if your child is scared of darkness), play music if your child likes it, and show in the closet or under the bad that there is nothing.


Your child may be uncomfortable


Has the sleep problem started for the past few days? Many children may wake up at night if they have a discomfort or are not feeling well like due to stomach aches, hunger, congestion and blocked nose or teething. But at times a child may not be able to tell you about the discomfort. Try to find the cause and if you are not able to diagnose it and the sleep problem persists, then consult his paediatrician.


May be it is a habit


If the cause of sleep problem is not obvious and your child continues to be a poor sleeper, then it is probably due to habit. You have to try and change his sleeping habits. For example,  if s/he wants to continue sleeping with you, then refuse and be firm, put him in his bed, thereby helping him overcome his sleep problem.


All children can be taught to sleep well through the night. But do not ignore all sleep related problems as poor sleep habits or unnecessary fuss—may be your child has a genuine problem. Try to find the cause of sleep problems in your child and if needed, consult a paediatrician.


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