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Sleep Problems in Young Children: Common Issues and How to Fix Them

Updated: Aug 26, 2023


Adult reading a bedtime story to a child

As a parent, one of the most common struggles you may face is getting your child to go to sleep. Whether it's a toddler who refuses to stay in their bed or an older child who can't seem to switch off. The lack of sleep can be frustrating for both you and your child. But there are ways to help your child get a good night's sleep.


One of the most important things to keep in mind is that every child is different and may require different strategies to fall asleep. However, there are a few general tips that can help.


First, establish a bedtime routine. Having a consistent routine before bed can signal to your child that it's time to wind down and get ready for sleep. This can include things like reading a story, taking a bath, or listening to calming music.

Second, create a sleep-conducive environment. This means making sure the room is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Consider using dark curtains or a white noise machine to create a peaceful environment.

Third, limit screen time before bed. The blue light emitted by electronic devices can suppress melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep. Try to avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime.

Fourth, avoid stimulating activities before bed. This includes things like playing active games or having intense conversations. Instead, try to engage in calm activities such as coloring or reading a book.

Fifth, be patient and persistent. Changing sleep habits can take time, so don't get discouraged if your child doesn't fall asleep right away. Keep trying different strategies until you find what works for your child.


Does too much sugar stop a Child from sleeping?

The effects of sugar overload on a Childs sleep quality

Absolutely, it's worth keeping in mind that an excess of sugar might potentially play a role in disrupting a child's sleep patterns. The reason behind this revolves around the impact of sugar on blood sugar levels, potentially leading to a surge in energy that could pose challenges for a child to go to sleep.


Moreover, eating or drinking sugary delights near bedtime could potentially contribute to heightened levels of hyperactivity, therefore presenting obstacles in a child's quest to find calmness and relaxation.


It's also worth noting that the moderation principle applies to sugar consumption. Consuming sugar in sensible amounts might not necessarily trigger concerns. However, crossing the threshold into consuming excessive sugar could indeed cast shadows over a child's overall state of health and their holistic well-being, including their sleep quality. The appropriate course of action would be to keep tabs on sugary food and drink, while simultaneously upholding for a balanced dietary regime filled with plenty fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.


Another feature to consider is that the sugar factor isn't the sole influencer of sleep patterns. Lots of other elements such as established sleep routines, the sleep environment and underlying health issues can all contribute towards a child's ability fall asleep.


Why is kids bedtime always a traumatic experience?


Children not wanting to go to sleep

Bedtime often brings with it in a range of challenges for children, each stemming from different sources. Some kids might find it hard to wind down and settle after an eventful day, especially if they've been engaged in exciting activities. The unfamiliarity of a new sleeping environment or disruptions to their routine can also mess up their sleep routine. In some cases, underlying factors like insomnia, anxiety, or ADHD can make the task of falling asleep a tougher nut to crack.


Moreover, the transition from being awake to being asleep can be a complex transition for certain children. This transition often necessitates being alone with their thoughts, which can feel overwhelming, particularly for those who battle anxiety or struggling with emotional processing.


Remember, every child is unique, and the methods that work like magic for one might not work the same for another. Discovering an effective routine might demand some trial and error, along with a lot of patience. But also with empathy and some well-directed effort, bedtime can transform into a peaceful and less distressing experience for them.


I can deeply empathize with your quest to urge your children into sleep for your own peace: The desire for a moment of peace and quiet after a tiring day is entirely relatable. Yet, it's crucial to bear in mind that bedtime can be an especially sensitive time for children. Using pleas or appeals to urge them to sleep might not bring the desired results and could inadvertently sow seeds of negativity for both you and your kids.


A more effective strategy would be to construct a consistent bedtime routine rich in quiet, soothing activities that coax them into a state of relaxation and preparation for sleep. Encouraging their involvement in these activities and prompting them to stay in their sleep space until it's time to drift off is a constructive approach. Upholding steadfast rules and expectations for bedtime, while steering clear of drawn-out disagreements or power struggles, can instil a more peaceful atmosphere.


Furthermore, being tuned into your own emotional state and managing your stress levels is essential. There are moments when taking a deep breath, counting to ten, or stepping away momentarily can help you regain a sense of control, enabling you to address the situation with a composed manner.


Why is it so difficult to get our Grandchildren to sleep when they stay over?


Grandparents trying to get their Grandchildren off to sleep

Getting your grandchildren to sleep during their stay can indeed pose quite a challenge.


There could be several factors contributing to this, such as the unfamiliarity of the surroundings, the excitement of being in a different place, disruptions to their usual routine, and the general difficulty in settling down.


To aid in facilitating better sleep for your grandchildren, you might consider establishing a consistent bedtime routine that creates a sense of familiarity. Providing a comfortable sleep environment can also work wonders. This means ensuring they have a cozy and inviting sleeping space.


Sticking to setrules and expectations for bedtime can also contribute to a smoother sleep transition. Additionally, encouraging plenty of physical activity during the day and steering clear of stimulating activities or screen exposure close to bedtime could help pave the way for better results.


I can understand your frustration upon hearing about other Grandparents' bedtime successes:

It's entirely natural to feel a mix of frustration and even a tinge of anger when listening to other parents discuss how effortlessly their children fall asleep.


Remember, each child is a unique individual, and every family's dynamics can vary. The ease with which other Grandparents navigate bedtime doesn't imply that there's anything wrong with you or your parenting. It's more beneficial to focus on discovering strategies that cater to your family's specific needs, rather than measuring yourself against others.


Also, bear in mind that struggling with bedtime challenges is a shared journey for numerous parents. You're not alone in this experience. While it's okay to feel those moments of anger or exasperation, channeling that energy into problem-solving and persistently trying diverse approaches can be productive in achieving better sleep for your children.


Moreover, remember to engage in conversations with other Grandparents, your own children, and healthcare experts if concerns about your grandchildren's sleep patterns arise. Their insights and recommendations could offer valuable guidance, aiding you and your grandchildren in navigating the complexities of bedtime more smoothly.


What health conditions could be preventing my child from sleeping well?


Embarking on the journey to secure a peaceful night's sleep for a child can be wandering due to an array of underlying health issues. These include:

  1. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): We'll delve into this subject with greater depth later but it's important to grasp that ADHD can profoundly obstruct a child's ability to both initiate and sustain an undisturbed sleep.

  2. Sleep Disorders: The landscape of sleep disorders, spanning conditions such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome, holds the ability to disturb the sleep cycle.

  3. Anxiety and Depression: The intricate area termed as anxiety and depression can cause endless racing thoughts and an inability to unwind, emerging as an imposing barrier for a child's gentle transition into sleep.

  4. Asthma: Nocturnal anxiety and respiratory hindrances that arise from asthma can wield a huge influence on the qualityof sleep.

  5. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): The presence of GERD in the form of heartburn and chest-throat discomfort possesses the potential to wreck the rhythm of sleep.

  6. Neurological Conditions: The distinct spectrum of neurological conditions, autism spectrum disorder being an example, can elaborately intervene with a child's sensory processing and their grasp of the fundamental concept of sleep.

Should suspicions arise concerning the potential existence of a sleep disorder or an underlying health issue in your child, it's important to talk to your GP. He or She may provide a physical examination or referral for a sleep study.


How can I tell if my child has ADHD?


Spotting potential signs of ADHD in a child involves keeping an eye out for a few key markers.


These could include struggles with maintaining focus, displaying hyperactivity, and acting impulsively. Interestingly, sleep challenges—like difficulties in both falling asleep and staying asleep can also be part of ADHD.


Nevertheless, it's absolutely crucial to seek guidance from a healthcare professional, such as a pediatrician or a child psychologist, to provide an accurate diagnosis and formulate an effective treatment plan. This might involve employing standardized rating scales and checklists, engaging in conversations with both the child and parents, and possibly observing the child in various settings to gather comprehensive insights for an informed diagnosis. This process could also entail eliminating other potential factors that might be contributing to the sleep struggles at hand.


Audio Book for helping Children sleep:

Downloadable Bedtime stories for children yo help them sleep

At this point, It would be remiss of me after encountering the challenges of getting my children to sleep and later in life my Grandchildren, not to mention my Audio Books.


I decided to write and record my own bedtime stories for others to use. Although I am a qualified Hypnotherapist, my stories do not include hypnosis, but according to customer feedback, the combination of my soothing voice, gentle music, and natural sound effects are very effective in helping children relax and fall asleep. There is a sound clip HERE on the main part of website. The Audio Books are available to download but if you prefer a CD, you will find them on Amazon. HERE


How will listening to a Childs audio book help them to sleep?


Listening to an audio book before tucking in can work wonders in creating a calm atmosphere for a child, aiding in their relaxation and gradual winding down. This, in turn, might facilitate an easier transition into sleep. Yet, it's essential to exercise caution and ensure that the selected audio book aligns with the child's age and is devoid of overly stimulating elements, as these could potentially backfire and hinder the sleep process. Furthermore, the establishment of a steadfast bedtime routine stands as a pivotal cornerstone. This routine could play a significant role in encouragingthe child towards a state of relaxation and eventual sleep.


What type of audio book will help children sleep?


The type of audio book that will help children sleep best will depend on the child's individual preferences and interests. However, in general, a calming and soothing story or a book that has a peaceful and slow-paced delivery would be more likely to help a child fall asleep.


Are sounds of nature good for getting children to sleep?


Sounds of nature, such as gentle rainfall, a babbling brook, or the soothing sound of waves, can be calming and relaxing for children, and can help them fall asleep more easily. Nature sounds can help create a serene and soothing environment that can distract children from the excitement of their daily lives, making it easier for them to relax asleep. Take a look HERE where they are available to download. If you prefer a CD, you will find it on Amazon HERE


If possible keep the volume low as a loud sound can disrupt the child's sleep instead of helping them sleep. Also, it's important to remember that some children may be sensitive to certain sounds, so you should watch your child's reaction to different sounds and adjust the volume accordingly.


Overall, sounds of nature can be a helpful addition to a bedtime routine, but it's important to consider the child's individual preferences and needs.


In conclusion, helping your child get a good night's sleep needs patience, consistency and a few strategies. By establishing a bedtime routine, creating a sleep-conducive environment, limiting screen time, avoiding stimulating activities and being persistent, you can help your child develop healthy sleep habits that will serve them well in the long run.

Sharon Shinwell Clinical Hypnotherapist

If you think you could be interested in trying my kids audio books to help get your Children sleep, take a look HERE The stories which contain my voice, gentle music and sound effects are specifically written for children age 2-6 with bedtime in mind.


I also have a Sound of Nature title which has also proved to be an effective sleep aid for children HERE


"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual."

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