Guiding Young Children Through Insomnia
Being a child is a challenging task, they need to find out who they are and what their place in this world is. Imagine going through this, while you are struggling with the one thing that seems to come so naturally to most of the people around you - sleep.
When you go to the people you trust most, they tell you that it is easy, you just need to lay there and close your eyes. Sleep will come.
What if it doesn't? What if no matter how long you lay there, sleep simply does not arrive? When it does, it is broken and you wake up more tired than when you went to sleep. And what if, no matter how many times you explain this to your parents or guardians, they simply tell you to stop misbehaving? Even punish you for not wanting to go to sleep.
Once upon a little girl
Even as a young child, I struggled with sleep. Falling asleep was an arduous task, sometimes it would take me up to 3 hours to get my eyes closed and actually fall asleep. While I was not scolded as often as some, I could have done with more support, education around sleep, and understanding.
As I became a teenager, I was allowed to read and listen to the radio late into the night. While not being in trouble for something that was out of my control, it was not an ideal situation.
Guide your children
If I could have had anything different these are the things that would have helped me the most.
Sleep hygiene education
Please teach your children what sleep hygiene is, and why it is important. It is my humble opinion that all children should have this kind of teaching. In particular, children who struggle with healthy sleep.
Teach them about healthy sleep schedules, healthy sleep environments, and why sleep is important to them. You can guide children and give them a way to help themselves and build healthy sleep habits from a young age.
Support and understanding
This is so important, and something I know would have made a big difference to me. I felt so lonely, misunderstood, and sad.
It was not that simple for me, I tried over and over to just close my eyes and count the sheep and just relax so that sleep would come. It never did. I struggled with insomnia on my own until I was an adult.
Record sleep schedule
A smartwatch is a quick and stress-free way to record and track your child's sleep habits. I have used one for my daughter, and it gives me an accurate picture of what we are dealing with. This way you can also create a schedule, which is important when you go see a doctor.
Seeing a doctor could be a reality if your child is struggling to sleep. A trip to the doctor with some information about what their sleep schedule is, and a thorough check-up will eliminate any medical issues that could also be causing insomnia.
Also, remember to give them a detailed layout of their lifestyle and day-to-day things that could all impact their overall health.
Supporting my child through insomnia
I have brought so much of this into practice in our daily lives. My daughter has had a set sleep hygiene routine since she was little, which means she always knew what to expect and how to move forward in the evenings. She finds great comfort in routine (even if she kicked against it in the beginning). She has however never been a great sleeper, so we tackle this together, nightly.
She knows she can wake me up at any time for anything - she will not be met with anger or irritation. Some nights she simply cannot fall asleep. This has become such a great bonding time for us, we sit on the couch and read while sipping some sleepy tea. Sometimes she uses this time to download her day, and talk about all the things that are on her mind.
What an absolute blessing that I am able to love, guide, and support her through all of this.
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