Insomnia in Kids & Sleeping Pills
Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep long enough to get adequate rest. Children need at least 10 hours of sleep each night; teenagers need at least 9 hours.
Melatonin is sometimes recommended for kids who have chronic (long-term, ongoing) insomnia or sleeping disturbances. But in general, kids should not take sleeping pills or anything to help them sleep unless advised by their pediatrician. Instead, try to get to the root of the problem:
- Is your child overtired or staying up too late? She may be getting her second wind, so try getting her to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier each night until she settles into a better schedule.
- Is your child getting too much stimulation before bedtime? Stop anything exciting, vigorous or stimulating at least 30 minutes before sleeping. This means no TV, video games, Internet or exercise. In fact, it's a good idea to keep televisions and computers out of kid's rooms to help with sleeping. Opt for reading or other quiet activities.
- If your child is distracted by background noise in the house, try a white-noise machine or calming music or other sounds.
- Cut out caffeine from beverages and chocolate, especially after lunchtime, and talk to your doctor about stopping any medications that might cause insomnia.
- Try to limit anything that could be causing stress or anxiety. Consider whether your child might benefit from seeing a child psychologist or psychiatrist.
- Set up a bedtime routine: I recommend the four B's: bath, brush teeth, books and then bed. Keep things consistent so your kids get into a nighttime rhythm.
- Although you don't want to feed your kids too much too close to bedtime, it can sometimes be soothing to drink a glass of warm milk in the evening.
If your kid is still has trouble sleeping, consult with your pediatrician, who may refer you to a kids sleeping specialist.