My Advice for Raising Children Who Have Insomnia
Last updated: June 2023
I have always wanted to be a mom. It was 1 of those things that were just in my veins and in my heart. My daughter is almost 9 years old. She is my life's greatest joy and my greatest challenge. Being a single mom with insomnia has been a journey, to say the least. Also, so is my little bundle of love, who is also apparently allergic to sleep. Raising children who have insomnia has been a journey of discovery and challenges, teaching me so much about myself, my daughter, and sleep in general.
My journey raising children who have insomnia
Babies who don't sleep
From birth, many little babies soon settle into a routine of sleep and sleep most of the day away while they are growing. So much so, that the nurses told me not to worry if my little baby slept a lot.
Turns out that my baby was not one of those. Thirty minutes – that is what I got from her at a time – 30 minutes sleep. You could set a timer to her if needed. At 28 - 30 minutes, those little eyes would open up wide. This was day or night. There was no 'through the night' sleeping or even sleeping more than 1 hour at a time, till past age 3.
Even now all these years later, while some nights are good, there are distinct periods when insomnia comes to stay. We have found a way to manage through it and make the time count.
Knowledge is power
Having experienced insomnia for most of my life, it was easy for me to recognize the symptoms of a child that is simply awake. This knowledge helped me to understand that the child was not being naughty or acting out. They were just simply awake. This was something that the child does not have control over.
This experience was very helpful as I have spoken to many parents who have been angry about their children, of all ages, that don't sleep well. It is so important to know and realize that if there is a sleeping problem, it is not a child being badly behaved.
When raising children with insomnia, the first stop is the doctor's or pediatrician's room to explore symptoms. Make sure you take notes for a week or 2 before you go so you can give an accurate picture of the child's habits and sleep patterns.
Also, it could be helpful to make notes of what the child is eating, etc. If you have any health concerns aside from your child's lack of sleep, trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, try to give the doctor as much information as possible.
It is very important to have any possible health issues canceled out. Allow the doctor to check what they need to, and make sure there is nothing to be concerned about. Insomnia can have many underlying causes.
Be patient and be kind. Figure out ways to keep your children busy without exciting them while they are awake. For us, we draw pictures and read books. We also drink a cup of sleepy tea since she is old enough to drink it. We remake the bed and restart the bed routine when we have been up for some time. A guided mediation can be very helpful and for younger kids, Moshi twilight stories are a firm favorite in our home.
Making a child feel bad for being awake or not being able to sleep is, in my opinion, one of the most destructive things that you can do. It can easily cause self-worth issues and make your children feel "not good enough." Importantly it can also cause severe anxiety about going to sleep and sleeping, which in turn can make insomnia worse.
Raising children who have insomnia can be a challenge. What tips help you? Please share a comment.
Do you experience painsomnia?