Insomnia in Children

How is insomnia diagnosed?

There is no specific test for insomnia. The diagnosis is based on symptoms and the exclusion of other medical problems, psychiatric problems and other sleep disorders.

How is insomnia in children treated?

Treatment methods for insomnia in children can involve any of the following:

  • Institute good sleep hygiene habits. Good sleep hygiene habits include: restricting time spent in bed to simply sleeping (no reading, doing homework or watching TV in bed); maintaining a regular sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time each day including weekends and holidays); avoiding caffeinated products 4-6 hours before bedtime (caffeinated products include coffee, tea, colas, some non-cola pops, energy drinks, and chocolates); avoiding tobacco and other drugs; and establishing a bedtime routine that does not include stimulating activities within an hour of bedtime (such as TV watching, electronic gaming, heavy homework, or computer gaming).
  • Comfortable sleep environment. Maintaining a bedroom that is quiet, calm, comfortable (< 75 degrees F), and dark (a nightlight is acceptable for children afraid of a dark bedroom). This also includes attention that the night time ambience of the house is relaxed, calm, quiet, dark etc. Avoid arguments or discussion of anxiety-provoking issues just before bed time.
  • Teach children how to relax. Deep breathing, positive mental imagery while lying in bed (such as visualizing the sun’s caressing rays beachside or breathing in fresh, cool mountain air), and other relaxation techniques (eg, quiet abdominal breathing) can be helpful aids to falling asleep.
  • Remove clocks from the bedroom. It may be best to remove all clocks from the bedroom – or at least turn their face away from the bed so that your child does not see it while trying to sleep. Watching the clock while trying to sleep can cause anxiety and make it harder to fall asleep. Remember there on clocks on phones too.

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