Dr Mark Rosenthal


Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8754

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

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

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Sleep disorders in children come in many forms, but one of the most common issues is that children keep waking up. Waking up at night isn’t usually a problem. We all wake occasionally as we move through our normal sleep cycles. However, we usually drift straight back to sleep again, so we often aren‘t aware that we’ve been awake at all. Even if we have to get up to use the bathroom or fetch a drink of water, we’re usually able to fall back to sleep again quickly. The problem arises when a child can’t go back to sleep by themselves.


What Keeps Children Awake at Night?
The first step to solving these kinds of sleep disorders in children is to work out why your child is finding it difficult to get back to sleep. It could be the same thing that woke them up, such as an uncomfortable bed. It could also be something that is worrying them or stopping them from getting back to sleep when they wake during the natural sleep cycle. Common examples include:

  • Hunger or thirst
  • Too hot or too cold
  • Needing the toilet or bedwetting
  • Noises, lights or other disturbances
  • Nightmares or fear of the dark
  • Anxiety or excitement

How Do You Help a Child Get Back to Sleep?
Once you know the cause, you may be able to find a simple solution for sleep disorders in children. It should be easy to address any physical discomfort. You might need to leave a drink by the side of the bed, make sure your child eats closer to bedtime, or change the bedding or room temperature. Any disturbances or distractions such as loud music or bright lights should also be eliminated. Problems such as nightmares and anxiety can be more difficult to solve, but talking to your child about their worries can help. Getting a night-light or allowing siblings to sleep in the same room could also help.

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