Dr Mark Rosenthal


Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8832

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

How to Tackle Anxiety When It’s Causing Sleep Problems in Children

Although they may seem too young to have any serious concerns, sleep disorders in children can be linked to anxiety about anything from schoolwork to the latest scare story on the news. Talking is the best way to tackle anxiety in children. It’s important to try to understand how they feel, even if it seems silly to you. Encourage your child to talk about how he or she feels, ask about their day, or talk about what’s going on in your lives. Sometimes you’ll have to read between the lines, but if you can find out what’s on their mind, you will often be able to reassure them or come up with a solution. Dealing with the source of anxiety can often help with sleep disorders in children.


Making Bedtime Easier

Talking about anxiety is essential, but it can also help to make some changes to your child’s bedroom and bedtime routine to create a safer, more comfortable space for sleep. Using a few tricks like this to make bedtime less anxious can be very effective against sleep disorders in children.

  • Using a nightlight or leaving a light on outside the bedroom can be very reassuring. You could also try giving your child a torch (which can be more fun than a bedside lamp) or putting glow in the dark stars up on the roof.
  • Sometimes it’s the silence at night that children find worrying, rather than the darkness. Leaving on a radio could help, but make sure it’s playing relaxing music or a soothing audio book at a low volume.
  • Having a favourite toy or comfort blanket can make a big difference, especially when your child wakes up at night. Making up a story about how brave their teddy is and how it will protect them at night can make it even more effective.
  • Checking for monsters under the bed or scaring them away together can play a part in your bedtime routine. Although you don’t want to reinforce the idea that there are monsters there, turning it into a game and laughing about it can make them seem less real or scary.