Sleeping Problems
Sleep Walking Kids


Why Can't I Sleep?

Don't worry - insomnia isn't anything scary or uncommon. It happens to tons of people all the time (kids, teens, and grown-ups), and there are a lot of ways to get over it. But first it's a good idea to try and figure out why you're having trouble getting to sleep. Here are a few of the most common reasons.

Bedtime Fears
For kids, feeling scared or worried at bedtime is one of the main reasons for having trouble falling asleep. Bedtime fears are pretty normal at certain ages - most kids have them sometimes. The good news is that as you get older, you grow out of these feelings. But in the meantime, some kids feel a little afraid in the dark, others don't like the feeling of being alone in their room, and others feel scared of noises they hear in the quiet of their bedrooms.

And, especially if you have a good imagination, being alone in the dark and hearing a few noises can leave your heart racing and your mind whirling - when the sound you hear is actually just your cat walking upstairs. Kids with active imaginations can dream up all sorts of creepy things. It's pretty hard to fall asleep when you're busy peeking out of one eye every couple of minutes to make sure there are no pretend monsters creeping around in your room or bad guys trying to get into your house.

If you're still waiting to grow out of these bedtime fears, here are some things you can do to fall asleep in the meantime:

  • Create a sleep-friendly bedtime space. Make sure your bed is ready for sleep and relaxing - not so jammed with toys and stuffed animals that there's no room for you.
  • Look around your room from your bed. Are there things you can see from bed that make you feel good, relaxed, happy, and peaceful? If not, make some. Create pictures of your favorite things and hang them where you can see them. Have your parent help you collect photos and posters or make a mobile.

Have you been having any nightmares lately? Sometimes it's hard to fall asleep when you're afraid of having a scary nightmare that feels way too real. If the fear of nightmares is keeping you awake, try talking to a parent. Sometimes talking about the nightmares (and even drawing a picture of them) can help you stop having them.

By the way, kids have many more scary dreams when they watch scary or violent TV shows or videos before bedtime. A great way to stop having nightmares and start having good dreams is to think good thoughts before bed. Imagine a favorite place or activity or think of all the people who care about you. Reading a peaceful bedtime story (your parent can read to you, or you can read to yourself) or playing soothing music can help you have sweet dreams.

Worry and Stress
Insomnia can also happen when you're worried about things. This kind of worry is called stress, and it's very normal. It's easy to feel stressed when you have tests and papers for school, plus after-school activities, team sports, and chores around the house. If you're starting to feel overwhelmed - like it's all just too much - speak up.

Teachers and parents don't want you to feel stressed over these things, so they'll help you set up a schedule where you can get all the important stuff done and still have plenty of time to get a good night's sleep.

It's pretty simple to find the cause of your sleep troubles if you've recently had a major change in your life or daily routine. Changes like divorce, death, illness, and even moving to a new town can affect your ability to sleep through the night.

During a difficult time like this, it's important to feel safe. It might help if you bring a comforting object to bed with you, like a blanket a relative made for you or a favorite stuffed animal you've had for years. It's also important to share your feelings with a parent, and maybe even visit a counselor to talk everything through.

Whatever the cause, insomnia (not sleeping) once in a while is very common. When it lasts a long time, even after you and your parent have tried some of these solutions, your doctor or a counselor can help you solve your sleeping problems. There are even special doctors at sleep clinics who can help.

Most of the time, kids' sleep problems can be solved pretty easily. It's a matter of trying some of the right things in your bedtime routine and having patience while new sleep habits develop.