Some parents struggle for hours to get their children to go to bed. Others wake up at midnight to assist their baby to fall asleep again. These types of sleep problems affect one in every four children.
Why do children develop various sleep issues? In this article we have listed the main reasons why children between the ages of one and ten years develop various sleep issues.
The personality you see in your child is known as temperament or disposition. Infants that appear irritable or restless may have a difficult time adapting to change and may struggle to settle. Babies with this disposition are more prone to experience sleep problems later in life.
Children who have a consistent bedtime and naptime routine have less sleep issues than those who have an inconsistent routine. A suitable bedtime routine soothes and calms the child, preparing him for sleep. Additionally, it helps the child to develop healthy sleep habits.
According to research, parents who stay with their children until they fall asleep at night are more likely to have children with sleep issues. Children use their parents as a cue to go to sleep. Therefore, when a child wakes up during the night and neither parent is around, falling right back to sleep is difficult.
Data clearly shows that children who are older are less prone to experience sleep issues. This could be because their brains are more capable of managing the processes required to fall asleep at night. It could be also due to the fact that older children are more independent in their bedtime routines.
Previous sleep problems
According to several researches children who have experienced sleep issues in the past are likely to have sleep problems later in life, unless change happens.
Parent’s socioeconomic status
Low-income families or parents with lower education are more likely to have children who experience sleep issues. This is not due to the low income or education. Researchers expect that it comes from the consequences of these circumstances – for example living in a noisy area.
Children with sleep issues are more likely to have parents who have inconsistent rules at home. These parents pose little or no restrictions on the behavior of their children, or have strong reactions to minor problems. Adults who behave in this manner may have difficulty maintaining a consistent bedtime routine for their children.
Use of electronic devices
Sleep issues are linked to increased electronic use. This is especially true if kids use devices in their bedrooms or near bedtime. This is due to screens interfering with the ability of melatonin (the sleep hormone) to accomplish its purpose, which is to make us drowsy. Electronics can also help keep children’ brains alert, especially if around bedtime they’re playing a game or watching a show.
1. Newton, A.T., Honaker, S.M., Reid, G.J. (2020), Risk and protective factors and processes for behavioral sleep problems among preschool and early school-aged children: A systematic review. Sleep Medicine Reviews, https://doi.org/10.1016/J.SMRV.2020.101303
2. McDowall, P.S., Elder, D.E. and Campbell, A.J. (2017), Relationship between parent knowledge of child sleep, and child sleep practices and problems: A pilot study in a children’s hospital cohort. J Paediatr Child Health, 53: 788-793. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpc.13542
3. Hall, W.A., Scher, A., Zaidman-Zait, A., Espezel, H. and Warnock, F. (2012), A community-based study of sleep and behaviour problems in 12- to 36-month-old children. Child: Care, Health and Development, 38: 379-389. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01252.x
4. Nigg, J.T. (2006), Temperament and developmental psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47: 395-422. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2006.01612.x
5. REID, G.J., HONG, R.Y. and WADE, T.J. (2009), The relation between common sleep problems and emotional and behavioral problems among 2- and 3-year-olds in the context of known risk factors for psychopathology. Journal of Sleep Research, 18: 49-59. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00692.x
6. Varma, P.,Jackson M., Junge, M., Conduit, R. (2018), Can child’s sleep predict parent sleep? Examining the association between parent and child sleep. J Sleep Res, 27: e38_12765. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.38_12765