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Achieving sufficient sleep is crucial especially in the case of children as it helps them to improve their learning ability, enhances their memory power, helps them perform better academically, and boosts general well-being during the development stages. However, unfortunately, not every child gives their body this required amount of sleep, which is one of the major causes of the rise in insomnia in children. Studies indicate that at least 25 per cent of children suffer from sleep-related problems such as insomnia, a disorder where a person experiences situations such as difficulty in falling asleep, getting an unbroken night's rest, or waking up earlier than usual along with difficulty in going back to sleep.
We spoke to Dr Savitha S, Additional Professor, Dept of Psychiatry, Kasturba Medical College, MAHE - Manipal, to understand how lack of sleep affects children and teenagers, and what are the easy ways to overcome sleep disorders or problems. Read on to know what the doctor has suggested the kids and their parents to do.
The ideal amount of sleep required for children varies according to their age. While babies below one year of age require 12 16 hours of sleep every day, children from 1-2 years require 12 16 hours of sleep whereas children from 3-5 years require 10-13 years and children from 6-12 years require 9-12 hours followed by teenagers with an average 8-10 years.
Insomnia in children is a primary condition that results due to varying conditions. One of the common reasons behind insomnia may be anxiety due to enhanced emotional arousal. In these situations, it is important to limit the intake of coffee or caffeine products in the child's diet along with alcohol and drugs for teenagers.
Another reason behind insomnia can be the sleep environment since children are extremely sensitive when it comes to their sleeping conditions such as a particular type of lighting or temperature. Too much screen time or routine illnesses may often pose difficulties in achieving sleep. In certain cases, children under medication or undergoing emotional and psychiatric illnesses such as depression, ADHD, and neurodevelopmental problems have insomnia as a prominent symptom.
Sometimes, a change in the routine or environment may induce stress and anxiety resulting in insomnia. Insomnia may normalize by itself when the child adjusts to the changes however the pattern may persist if not handled wisely.
Dr Savitha says that the condition can be reversed with proper care and management. "The positive takeaway about childhood insomnia is that it is treatable. In cases of primary insomnia, maintaining good sleep hygiene and reducing parental involvement by setting adequate limits is crucial. In these cases, parents should establish sleep time rules which should be strictly followed by the child. However, in secondary cases like emotional, or medical disorders or if the child is under medications, it is essential to consult the treating doctor for suggestions on treating the condition," said Dr Savitha.
Listed below are the measures which should be implemented by parents to reverse insomnia-
In conclusion, insomnia can inflict worry on the parents as well as the child. Parents need to remain vigilant to recognize the signs and symptoms in the early stages. If these practices are not helping your child sleep better, please consider medical assistance.
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