Insomnia, Sleeping disorders in Infants and Children

There is a misconception among people that insomnia would not occur in children.
Also mostly it is believed that these feelings cannot be experienced by infants and children because they are too young to worry about anything. But this is not true. Just like adults, insomnia can also happen to children and infants.

Insomnia usually takes one or more of the following forms:

  • Sleeping lightly and restlessly, waking often, lying awake in the middle of the night - more common in people over 40. In younger people it may be associated with depression.
  • Difficulty falling asleep - more common among young people
  • Waking early and being unable to get back to sleep - this is more common in when babies first come home from the hospital, they usually sleep 14-18 hours a day. That sounds like a lot of time but it isn't, because the sleep of newborns isn't consolidated. It tends to come in "chunks" that last anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours at a time, during the day and at night. Furthermore, some newborns have their days and nights reversed and sleep more during the day.

In early infancy, napping usually occurs 2-4 times a day for 30 minutes to 2 hours at a time. By 6-9 months, the baby usually takes only 2 naps a day. By 18 months, she will probably nap only in the afternoon, and by the age of 2 1/2-5 years, she will give up naps entirely.

How should we prepare our baby for sleep?

For newborns, be sure to follow the guidelines to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): place your baby to sleep on her back, avoid smoking, and make sure there are no pillows, comforters, stuffed animals or other materials that could suffocate or smother the baby. Don't make the room too warm, and dress her as you would dress for bed. Some newborns sleep better swaddled, because normal jerks in their sleep can wake them up.

Parents need to make their own decisions as to where their baby sleeps, whether in a crib, a bassinet, or the parents' bed. Be sure, though, that wherever your baby sleeps, she is safe. In addition, it strongly encourage parents to decide by the time the baby is 3 months old where they want her to sleep at age 1 and put her there. By 3 months, her habits are becoming well entrenched. You can make the transition from a crib to a big bed between the ages of 2-3 1/2 years, but wait as long as possible, because children who transition to a bed too early can develop sleep problems.

There are little you as a new parent can do at first, except to let the baby govern her schedule. After about 4-6 weeks, a sleep pattern will develop. Pay attention to when your baby usually gets sleep, when she needs naps, and when she is ready to sleep at night just don't expect her to be consistent on a day-to-day basis yet.

It is common observation that most newborn babies wake several times during the night, but by the age of 6 months they typically sleep through the night. At one year, babies will sleep an average of about 16 hours in every 24. Two to three hours of this sleep will be during the day. Scientifically this is not a proven thing that less sleeping babies have a high I.Q but many parents believe on it. Babies usually wake once every evening at the minimum. Unless breast fed, infants can go back to sleep on their own.

Causes of sleeplessness in infants may include:

  • desire for parental attention
  • infantile colic or other digestive problems
  • Indigestion
  • teething
  • Fever or other illness

Following are the precautions for parents how to cure insomnia for infants:

Precautions for parents

  1. Avoid using alcohol in the evening. Avoid caffeine for at least 8 hours before bedtime. Give up smoking, because nicotine is a stimulant.
  2. Establish a regular bedtime, but don't go to bed if you feel wide awake. Use the bedroom for bedroom activities only. Once in bed, use creative imagery and relaxation techniques to keep your mind off unrest full thoughts. Avoid staying in bed for long periods of time while awake, or going to bed because of boredom.
  3. Take your TV or computer out of your bedroom. Otherwise, your brain becomes used to the stimulation and starts to expect it when you are there. This makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
  4. Relax by reading, taking a bath, or listening to soothing music before getting to bed
  5. Exercise regularly, but not in the last two hours before going to bed. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has been show to make people fall asleep faster and benefit from deeper and more restful sleep. Sex can be a natural sleep inducer and helps some people

For Infants

  • Avoid being readily available to a child during the night. Otherwise, the child may become dependent on attention and become sleepless if deprived of it
  • For children who have trouble falling asleep, try to make sure that the child is not disturbed by unnecessary noise. Leaving a radio playing soft music may help cover up disturbing noises
  • Avoid sending a child to bed as punishment which can result in poor sleep caused by fear
  • Never give a child sleeping medicine without consulting the doctor first. Generally, it is unwise to treat the problem with drugs.


Medication should be a last resort. Over-the-counter sleep medicines can have side-effects, including a "hangover" effect the next morning. If these fail, you may want to ask you health care provider to recommend other options. Avoid all sedatives including the benzodiazepines, during pregnancy.


Highly Recommended: Insomnia Cure at The Sleep Ninja

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