Insomnia in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Insomnia is the inability to sleep well. Insomnia may make it hard for your child to get to sleep, stay asleep, or sleep as long as he or she needs to. This can make your child tired and grouchy during the day. It can also make your child forgetful, less effective at school, and unhappy.

Insomnia can be caused by conditions such as depression or anxiety. Pain can also affect your child's ability to sleep. When these problems are solved, the insomnia usually clears up. But sometimes bad sleep habits can cause insomnia.

If insomnia is affecting your child's schoolwork or your child's enjoyment of life, you can take steps to improve your child's sleep.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

What to avoid

  • Do not let your child have drinks with caffeine, such as soda, for 8 hours before bed.
  • Do not let your child eat a big meal close to bedtime. If your child is hungry, let him or her eat a light snack.
  • Do not let your child drink a lot of water close to bedtime, because the need to urinate may wake up your child during the night.
  • Do not let your child read or watch TV in bed. Use the bed only for sleeping.

What to try

  • Have your child go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
  • Keep your child's bedroom quiet, dark, and cool.
  • Make sure your child gets regular exercise.
  • Have your child sleep on a comfortable pillow and mattress.
  • If watching the clock makes your child anxious, turn it facing away from your child so he or she cannot see the time.
  • If your child worries when he or she lies down, have your child start a worry book. Well before bedtime, have your child write down his or her worries, and then set the book and his or her concerns aside.
  • Make your house quiet and calm about an hour before your child's bedtime. Turn down the lights, turn off the TV, log off the computer, and turn down the volume on music. This can help your child relax after a busy day.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your efforts to improve your child's sleep do not work.
  • Your child's insomnia gets worse.
  • Your child falls asleep during the day.

Where can you learn more?

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