A Parent’s Nightmare: When Kids Can’t Sleep

At the end of a long, hard day, nothing looks more inviting that your bed and a fluffy pillow. Crawling into bed is the best feeling in the world—until your kid wanders in and tells you they can’t sleep.

There are a few common sleep problems in children, so how can you help them get the sleep they need? Follow this guide!

The Sleepwalker
Sleepwalking occurs when a child is partially aroused out of deep sleep. Stress and fatigue are sometimes to blame. Fortunately, most kids outgrow sleepwalking. In the meantime:

  • Try keeping a regular sleep schedule.
  • Don’t try to wake up a sleepwalking child. Just lead him or her back to bed.
  • Do what you can to prevent accidents. Install gates on staircases and don’t use bunk beds. Keep windows and doors locked, and the floors clear of clutter.

Night Terrors vs. Nightmares
Nightmares are more common than you may think: about 1 out of every 4 kids has scary dreams more than once a week. Night terrors are less common, affecting only about 4% of children, usually between the ages of 3 and 8 years old.

Sleep problemsDuring a night terror, your child may bolt upright screaming and sweating. He or she may be confused and have trouble remembering the dream. If your youngster can’t fall asleep after waking up and is scared, offer a hug and stay there until your child calms down.

As with sleepwalking, night terrors tend to increase when children are stressed or tired. To prevent scary dreams, stick to a relaxing, regular sleep routine, and limit TV before bedtime.

The Wet Blanket
Bed-wetting tends to run in families. If both parents wet the bed during childhood, their children will have an 80% chance of also being bed-wetters. And bed-wetting is twice as common in boys as in girls.

Anxiety and stress may play a role when children start wetting the bed after being dry for at least six months. Many things can upset children, including the birth of a new sibling or a divorce. Bed-wetting can signal a medical problem, such as a bladder infection or a urinary problem. However, in those cases, other symptoms usually appear.

Bed-wetting almost always disappears by the teen years. But in the meantime, it can have an effect on a child’s self-esteem. Here are some steps you can take:

  • To help prevent accidents, limit fluids after dinner. And urge your child to go to the toilet before going to sleep.
  • Put a rubber or plastic cover between the sheet and mattress to spare the bed when accidents happen.
  • Set a family rule against teasing the child who wets the bed.
  • Your child’s doctor may recommend bladder-stretching exercises. Children are asked to slowly increase the amount of time between urinating during the daytime. This may help the bladder hold more urine at night.
  • Wetness alarms may help older children. Available over the counter, alarms sound off or vibrate when they detect the slightest bit of wetness, waking a child up so she can go to the bathroom.
  • Prescription medications may be available.

The Night Owls
Go to bed now? If your kids regularly resist the bedtime call, they may miss out on needed sleep. To help corral your youngsters in the evening, try these sleep-inducing strategies:

  • Don’t serve kids soft drinks or anything else with caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
  • Try to stick to a regular, reasonable bedtime every night.
  • Set the mood for snoozing with an enjoyable, relaxing routine. A warm bath after dinner and a favorite bedtime story may do the trick.
  • Make sure your child’s bedroom is dark, quiet, and not too warm or cold. And it should be a TV-free zone. Check to see that mobile devices are turned off and put to bed as well.

We interviewed a bunch of kids to find out their thoughts on sleep. Their adorable reactions inspire us to learn more about stress and coping techniques ourselves!