The human being has many needs. Many of them can be left in the background or try to be covered without much urgency. However, there are also the so-called basic needs, which are the most important and if we do not satisfy them correctly, we could get sick and even die.
Some of these needs are eating, drinking water, eliminating waste, sleeping, etc. In their satisfaction we will find a pleasant sensation of well-being and a healthier and fuller life.
However, sometimes there are situations that get out of hand, which can prevent us from satisfying these needs. For example, lack of employment, personal problems, health problems, etc.
One of the most common problems is related to lack of sleep. When we have trouble sleeping we find it difficult to coordinate and carry out the tasks of the day. This happens because, during the night hours, while we sleep, a large number of regenerative processes are carried out, which cannot be carried out while we are awake.
All this is related to something known as sleep disorders. For this reason, the next day we usually have a bad mood, we have a hard time concentrating, retaining ideas, among other things. In general, we might think that these things only affect us adults. But, the truth is that this is becoming more and more common in the case of children.
Parents who have to live through such circumstances often feel disoriented, since children cannot be treated or medicated in the same way as an adult. In such a case, how to treat a sleep disorder in children? To do? Who can you go to? What recommendations should you take into account? Can these disorders be prevented? I will help you answer these and other questions.
Instructions for treating a sleep disorder in children
Sleep disorders have the particularity of causing problems related to the action of sleeping. In turn, they include difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, as well as falling asleep at inappropriate times, being very sleepy all the time, and engaging in unusual behavior while sleeping.
These disorders significantly affect the child’s life. Also, the relationship with their parents and with the other members of the family. Likewise, it can affect their social relationships and their school performance.
In the case of parents, the priority should be to recognize that there is a problem that is affecting their child so that they can help solve it as soon as possible. In case you have doubts about it, it is best to consult your pediatrician.
Some of the types of sleep disorders, in children and adolescents, are the following:
- Insomnia: This is one of the most common problems in children and is characterized by difficulty starting and maintaining the sleep cycle. It also has to do with the feeling of not having been able to sleep well and that this situation lasts for at least a month in a row.
- Restless legs syndrome: this is the urgent need to move your legs when resting, which could cause not only insomnia, but also tiredness during the day.
- Sleepwalking: This disorder is very common in children who are of school age. It usually resolves over time and without the need for any treatment. In this case, the child does not respond to external stimuli and does not remember anything he says or does while asleep.
- Night terrors: they are a type of nightmare, but more spectacular. Hence, the child sits up in bed, abruptly, either screaming or crying and quite upset. As in the case of sleepwalking, the child does not usually respond to stimuli or remember anything at all.
- Nightmares: they are nothing more than sleep states that are prolonged, elaborate, complex and with a significant increase in the sensation of fear or anxiety. In this case, the child wakes up very scared and alert.
- Rhythmic movements related to sleep. These types of movements are repetitive and take place in different parts of the body, such as the head, trunk, limbs, and even the entire body, and occur when the child begins to fall asleep.
- Narcolepsy: This disorder is rare in children. It is characterized by drowsiness during the day, loss of muscle tone, a feeling of immobility, etc.
What do you need to treat a sleep disorder in children?
It is important that you keep a few things in mind. For example, in the case of nightmares, these are not usually a cause for alarm, unless they are very recurrent. In such a case, parents can try keeping a journal to help determine what is causing the nightmares.
In relation to night terrors and sleepwalking, although occasional episodes may occur for years, they usually disappear on their own, without the need for any treatment.
However, if this disorder persists through adolescence or into adulthood, treatment such as sedative or certain antidepressants may be appropriate. Some studies have revealed that certain sleep disturbances that are related to leg movements can be treated with iron supplements. Even if the child does not have anemia.
In the specific case of insomnia, the child may require a mild sedative until normal sleep is achieved. After that, it may no longer be necessary.
Tips for Treating a Sleep Disorder in Children
Even if your child doesn’t currently have any of these sleep disorders, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily always the case. Therefore, in such a case, prevention is best.
If your child is less than 2 months old, it is important that he is awake while eating. Also, after doing it, he must remain awake in the arms, while he eliminates the gases. After you change his diapers, put him to bed so he can learn to fall asleep on his own. Strive to develop a routine before bed, this routine can include: bath, massage, dinner, story, sleep.
If he is between 2 and 5 months old, have a routine every night before going to bed, do not wake him up at night to feed him and, after 3 months, make sure he has his own room.
Between 5 and 12 months of age, you should no longer eat at night. In case he wakes up, calm him down with caresses and affectionate phrases. Give him something to keep him company, like a stuffed animal or a doll.
After 12 months, it should be surrounded by calm, dark and pleasant environment, the time to go to bed and the time to get up always have to be the same. Avoid intense physical activity for at least 2 hours before going to bed. Do not give him chocolate or drinks that contain caffeine and do not allow him to take very long naps.
By age 2, keep him from going to bed hungry and try to keep him from drinking so much water that he wakes up at night to go to the bathroom.
Between the ages of 2 and 5, he avoids things that could increase his anxiety or fears. Avoid giving him any kind of drink that might turn him on too much. Similarly, try not to do any demanding physical activity one or two hours before going to sleep. Do not associate food or sleep with a punishment.
If he has trouble sleeping, avoid scolding or yelling at him. On the contrary, she tries to reassure him and continues with the routine. She tries, by all means, not to lose her calm. If you put these recommendations into practice, you will prevent your child from developing any type of sleep disorder and you will make his sleeping experience much more pleasant and enjoyable.