Family Forum: Goodnight

Key to a good night’s sleep


Can you offer any advice on helping a child (8) with anxiety and insomnia. He has been in our bed every night this week or just won’t sleep at all. I’ve tried a meditation app before bed, I’ve read looooooong bedtime stories. Any ideas are very welcome.


Doctors and psychologists who have studied human sleep patterns are realising how important and complex they are. Sleep provides the opportunity for both physical and mental refreshment and growth, so it is even more important in children. Before trying the myriad of suggestions found on the Internet it is vital to establish a clear idea about the nature and cause of your child’s sleep issue. You describe him as an anxious child with difficulty getting to sleep. This is often a separate issue to a child who is unable to maintain sleep and wakes during the night.

An important first step is to rule out any physical cause to his sleep onset problem. This can be done with a visit to a GP for a physical check-up. However if no physical problem is found the Panel suggests you resist any offer of medication at this stage. You mention that your child may suffer from anxiety and it is important that the source of this anxiety is understood. There are many possible reasons why a child may feel anxious and because it may be the root cause of his sleep disorder you should also seek an assessment by an experienced child psychologist. The psychologist should assess any underlying causes and also the sleep hygiene of the child in order to recommend the best way of ensuring an effective sleep pattern.

Many parents can inadvertently reinforce anxious behaviour by exhibiting their own concerns to the child and reinforcing what may have been only a passing developmental phase. Although some “home remedies” may work for some children it is more effective to access an experienced professional who will be able to guide you towards an effective remedy for your child’s sleeping problem.

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