Children’s Anxiety at Bedtime
There are many parents who describe they find their children have anxiety at bedtime. Your child may be having concerns or anxiety related to problems at school such as social issues or social anxiety, problems within the household or family, or a number of other different reasons that are keeping them up at night.
Your child may even have a concern that they won’t be able to fall asleep, which is how some kids start worrying about sleep hours before it is even bedtime and is a common situation that worsens their anxiety at bedtime. While as adults we know this is not always rational, it is important to be mindful and respectful of their anxiety and concerns to ultimately help them break the cycle early on. Therefore, here are some tips and techniques you can use to help your child with being able to fall asleep and crush the sleep anxiety.
Tips and Techniques to Help Your Child With Bedtime Anxiety
Trying these tips and techniques may help with children’s anxiety at bedtime and help other family members within your home sleep well too. These tips and techniques include the following:
- No Screen Time, Phones or Television Before Bed – In this day and age, phones or televisions are a substantial part of a lot of children’s days. These devices can keep children up all night if they were made available, which is why it is important to put a limit on the amount of screen time your child should get and ultimately turn them off some time before bed. The blue light that is emitted from screens can inhibit the body’s melatonin release, which is what can keep them up for hours and hours – leaving them cranky and tired the next day.
- Routine – Routines keep us all in check and help us get through the day and get to bed faster. Having a daily routine for your child is healthy and important which can help ensure your child is going to bed on time. As your child gets used to this routine, their body will naturally tell them when it is time to wake up or go to sleep. This can make it much easier for them as they make their way through their school day. Sticking to a family routine can help children’s anxiety at bedtime, so it is important to figure out what works for your family and keeping that routine on a regular basis.
- Don’t Skip Pillow Talk or Story Time – Talking to your child or reading them a story before bed can be really helpful and comforting to your child. A bedtime story will refocus your child’s mind in a positive, imaginary world that allows them to forget any anxiety or concerns right before falling asleep. Reading out loud to them can also help with vocabulary and is beneficial to their development.
- Consider Getting Rid of Stimulants – Coffee, caffeine, and energy drinks are really the last thing an over-energized child needs – especially right before bed. Avoiding any form of stimulant is absolutely essential if you are trying to get your child to bed on time. If your child is on a form of ADHD medication, consider speaking with your doctor on remedies to help them sleep or consider taking them off altogether if they are having difficulties sleeping.
- Call a Child Psychiatrist– The last measure to be taken if all else has failed is to give your local or online child psychiatrist a call. This will help you with ruling out medical causes of sleeplessness and anxiety, which includes allergies, snoring, sleep apnea, or medication side effects. A pediatrician can also provide anxiety medications and may be able to treat uncomplicated anxiety.
These tips and techniques can greatly help with the battle of getting your child to sleep on-time and ensuring that they are anxiety free. Once again, if the sleeplessness and anxiety continues even after trying out these techniques, then it may be time to give your pediatrician a call just to be safe.
Dr. Sean Paul, MD is a child psychiatrist who specializes in treating mood disorders like anxiety in children and teens.