Quarter of children suffer from insomnia, but new study offers hope
Published Monday, November 21, 2016 9:41PM EST
For many parents, getting their kids to bed every night can be an absolute struggle.
Michelle Wan is one of them. Her 6-year-old son Ben just won’t fall asleep.
“I would say around (the ages of) three or four, once he started getting aware of everything else in his room, he started getting distracted and it was a bit hard to put him to bed,” Wan told CTV Toronto.
Michelle tried doing standard bedtime activities with Ben, like reading stories or giving him a bath, but they only served to wind him up more. Then, she consulted The Hospital for Sick Children’s sleep expert, neurologist Dr. Shelly Weiss.
“Often children who don’t sleep well, they don’t sleep well because they don’t have a set bedtime, they don't have a consistent routine, they don't have a consistent sleep and wake time,” Weiss told CTV Toronto.
Weiss recommended that the Wan family pare things down at bedtime and do little more than brush teeth, put on pajamas, then get tucked in. Within two weeks, they noticed a change in Ben.
“He would be a lot calmer, able to focus better if there was homework or schoolwork or whatever it was,” Wan said.
According researchers, approximately 25 per cent of children suffer from some form of insomnia -- a group of sleep problems that includes trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or waking up too early. Loss of sleep, researchers say, can negatively impact a child’s academic, emotional, social and physical processes.
To learn more about childhood insomnia and how to best deal with it, the Hospital for Sick Children is currently recruiting kids from across the country to participate in a sleep study called “Better Nights, Better Days.”
The program will help create a “step-by-step method,” Weiss says, “first of all learning about sleep, and then learning how to put your child to bed, and good sleep habits, and then learning what to do if your child wakes up at night or early in the morning.”
You can sign up your sleepless beauty at betternightsbetterdays.ca.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s health reporter Pauline Chan