Sleep problems in children: case scenarios and useful tips

Published : 14-01-2019 17:23:39
Categories : Child Sleep

Sleep problems in children: case scenarios and useful tips

Is your child sleep disturbed? Do you regularly spend difficult evenings and sleepless nights? The bedtime ritual going wrong, crying, insomnia, nightmares, comedy... it can be very challenging to gain control over your child’s sleep. Be reassured, you are not alone! More than 1 in 3 children under the age of 7 are having trouble falling asleep... Here are the most common case scenarios and some tips to help you bring the peace back home and finally see your baby sleep like a little angel!

Scenarios and sleep disorders in children

Scenario 1: My child gets over excited at night!

Your child is indefatigable! After a busy day, he is always full of energy! He wants to play, run and have fun. And when you tell your little one that it's already time to go to bed, he looks at you with astonished eyes as if he thought he would be able to run around all night!

Your child needs to relax and/ or spend the extra energy he has accumulated during the day. To help him have a good night's sleep, here's what you can do:

Give them a bath : nothing better than a warm relaxing bath. Make the water flow, create a soft atmosphere and play some calm music. Offer to your child to rest calmly and think of a happy memory together for example. A gentle massage of the head during the "shampoo" phase can also help to loosen up.

Create a soft atmosphere : Often, children tend to reproduce parents' behavior. Do you tend to be insomniac? Are you a dynamic type of person who comes from work to quickly prepare meals and then, to prepare your schedule for the next day? If that’s the case, try slowing down your actions, reduce ambient noise, and speak softly. Once again, music is your ally! Choose a nice and relaxing music that the whole family enjoys and put it on every night at about the same time. Your child will begin to associate this sound with sleep and will fall asleep more quickly.

The bedtime story : A story is always nice to loosen up and forget the little hassles of the day. If your child is old enough to read you can spend a special moment by enjoying your favorite reads together. After a half-hour of reading, tell them a short story and put them to sleep!

Spend energy through sport : Your child may have too much energy! Does he spend enough during the week? It is scientifically proven that 1 hour of sport, 3 times a week helps a lot to fall asleep. You should, of course, avoid all sports activities at night - this can have the opposite effect.

WARNING: your child may refuse to fall asleep if he is too tired! Lack of sleep often results in excitement, crying, etc. Did you spend a particular week? An evening at a friend's house, meeting new people, traveling? If this is the case, the only remedy is consistency! It's the magic word for worry-free sleep. Your little one has to go to bed every night at the same time if possible.

Scenario 2: My child stubbornly refuses to go to bed!

Although he is tired (yawning, stretching etc.) your child refuses to go to bed. Every single night you turn into a negotiator to find the right argument so that he goes to sleep without ending up with cries and tears.

In this case, it is important to identify the reason causing the refusal and make your child understand that sleep is important especially at his age.

The discussion : If your child suddenly refuses to sleep, this behavior could be explained by a temporary feeling of anxiety. Did something happen during the week? A fight at home? A change in the environment? If not, there might be a problem at the daycare, with a teacher or a friend. The only way to know is to talk to him! Use your intuition and help your little one overcome his worries. A big hug and some cuddles before putting him to bed can be a very good remedy!

Understand the notion of time : Before 7 years, it is very difficult for your child to understand the alternation between day and night. Why going to bed when there is still so much to do? Avoid interrupting your child’s activity when taking him to bed. To avoid a feeling of disappointment, let your child know how much time he has left before going to bed. Additionally, don’t hesitate to use the notions of time before bedtime: "You have one hour of playtime left before dinner", "We go to the table in 20 minutes and after, it’s bedtime".You can use external devices like a sleep trainer to help you do that. UrbanHello's smart sleep trainer allows you to set up different timers to help your child better understand the notion of time.

The benefits of sleep : Perhaps your child still doesn’t understand why it is so important to sleep. Use a weekly planner and ask every morning if he has slept well if he feels in shape and has had a good day. Show your child that when he sleeps well, he is full of energy and he’s able to spend a great day the next day !

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Scenario 3: He wakes up every night !

Everything starts well. Your child is in bed, you sit comfortably on the sofa to watch a good movie when suddenly you hear the creaking of the door of the room. Your child escaped his bed and started messing around the house.

If your toddler wakes up all the time soon after he falls asleep, it may be that he is not tired enough and needs to spend some energy. However, if he wakes up late at night, it may be because something in the room is bothering him. Here is what you can do:

Keep your child occupied with a story : If your child has trouble staying in bed, he might need a small occupation. You can allow him to play quietly in the room, draw a picture or read a story. If he is too young, ask him to imagine the rest of the story you read to him or to think about all the things he could do tomorrow during the day! In this way, your help your toddler develop their imagination while helping them fall in the arms of Morpheus.

Be calm but firm : If your little one gets out of bed all the time, do not get upset. Remind your child of the importance of sleep, that he will be tired the next day and bring him back to his room. Be careful the bed should never be perceived as a punishment! It should be seen as a soothing cocoon where your little one feels at ease.

Something is bothering him : The reason behind the sleep problems of your toddler can be more obvious - a crib which is too small or an uncomfortable pillow can prevent your child from falling asleep. Do not hesitate to ask what is bothering your child. It is important that your little one appreciates his room and feels reassured by the colors and the objects that surround him.

Lack of affection : Has your child spent enough quality time with you during the day? Try to spend a little more time with him the next day to see if his sleep is affected.

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Scenario 4: Nightmares

Once again everything was calm and easy when you hear loud crying at 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning. You get up to see what's wrong and see your child in distress because of this nightmare that haunts him for a few days now.

Who doesn’t have nightmares? Your child grows up and little by little, he learns the good things of life but also fears or anxieties develop. Again, the best way to help him fall back asleep is to have a discussion and understand what's wrong:

Ask him to tell you what happened in the nightmare : The first step, of course, is to ask him to tell you calmly his nightmare. Insist on the fact that this is only a dream and that in reality, there is nothing! If the nightmare is repeated night after night, also try to identify events that could have triggered those anxieties. A fight with a friend in the daycare can quickly turn into a fear of going back there in your child’s dreams!

A happy ending to the nightmare : Do you remember this Harry Potter scene, where students facing their worst nightmares must cast the magic spell "Ridiculous" to turn their ugly beast into something funny and nice? Take this example and tell your child a story to transform the ugly dragon into a little puppy spitting fire!

Create an anti-nightmare magic object : Take a picture of yourself that your toddler likes, take a picture frame and ask your child to decorate it as he wishes (stickers, pompons, ribbons etc.). In the evening, look at the picture together and tell your little one that you are right next to him and you watch over him through the night.

Scenario 5: My kid is scared before going to bed

Your little one was sleeping well and suddenly they stubbornly refuse to go to their bedroom. You can see that they are tired, but the simple word "sleep" is enough to stress them out and make them anxious. Your child cries, moans, and refuses to fall asleep…

Sleep disorder identified in kids: Between 3 and 6 years old, it is completely normal for your child to dread bedtime. It is the moment when they need to leave your reassuring presence to find themselves alone. This is when many fears are born. Fears can have many origins:

Fear of noises: Who hasn't woken up in the middle of the night after hearing a dog barking, or a "crack" in the house? Your child may not be able to sleep because of a noise that terrifies them. The important thing is to talk about it together! What could possibly have caused this uproar? It's just the neighbors' dog! Have fun reproducing the noise with a funny face, for example, to help your kid relax!

Bedtime anxiety: In general, your child may be afraid of the simple fact of going to bed (fear of the dark, of shadows, etc.). Being alone is something worrying, it must be admitted. In this case, you can use a night light like REMI for example! Combined with an effective and relaxing bedtime ritual, your child's anxiety should gradually fade away.

"I'm afraid of monsters"! : Your child is full of imagination and if they have been confronted with shocking images, on television, for example, they can quickly have trouble falling asleep. Here too we must talk about it and reassure them! You can choose a bedtime story in which the hero manages to defeat the witch, the ghost or the dragon easily! This will give your little one weapons to overcome their fears.

Fear of school: Many children dread the day at school. Faced with the tomorrow that awaits them, they cannot fall asleep. In this case, it is important to address the anxiety at its source. Your little one is discovering life and they need you by their side for support. Take the time to talk with them and figure out what's wrong. A fight with a friend? Did the teacher punish them? Are they afraid of missing out? These questions often arise and nothing beats soothing words to make them go away!

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