Common Children's Sleep Problems


For children, sleep is critical for their growth and development. They need a consistent bedtime schedule. Each age group has a specific set of hours that is ideal for their age. Preschoolers need 10 to 13 hours of sleep per night, while grade-school children need 9 to 11 hours of sleep.


However, even with the best sleep schedule, a number of children may still develop sleep problems, which interrupt the normal routine, making it difficult to get things back on track. The good news is that many of these nighttime issues are developmentally related, meaning they will disappear as a child grows. That doesn’t mean that some of the situations aren’t a little tougher than others. Some may require more parental action. Keep reading to learn more about some of these common sleep issues.



Snoring is a pretty common one that may continue into adulthood. While a cold or allergies may cause snoring for a couple of days, continuously loud snoring could be a sign of a medical condition such as sleep apnea, enlarged tonsils or adenoids. While the percentage for serious sleep conditions is quite rare in children, if you have concerns, please make an appointment with your child’s doctor for the best solution.


Difficulty Falling Asleep

This is one that most parents can relate to. How many of us have had children asking for that one more thing- story, hug, glass of water, or even snack! Most active kids may drift off quickly and easily however, there could be other reasons that lead a child to stay awake longer than the lights out warning. One common cause of this is blue light exposure. This exposure can interfere with the melatonin that helps control the sleep-wake cycle. To avoid this, keep technology out of your child’s bedroom and power down these devices at least one hour before bedtime.



Nightmares and Night Terrors

Nightmares and night terrors are two different things. Approximately 25% of children aged 5-12 will experience nightmares. These are scary dreams that usually happen during the REM stage of sleep. They may startle your child awake suddenly which often leads to tears and fears. To deal with nightmares, it’s typically easier for parents, hug your kiddos and reassure them that it was just a dream and not at all real. This is usually a calming and easy way to help the situation. If the situation persists, try a nightlight so the room isn’t totally dark.


Night terrors, on the other hand are much less common and happen during the non-REM sleep stages. During a night terror, children may remain asleep but still shout, thrash about, and sometimes sleepwalk without recalling the events the following morning. It may seem like the best idea to wake up a sleep walking child, but this may not actually help them at all. Parents should try to remain calm. Try to guide the child back to bed. Remember that as scary as it might be to witness as a parent, your child will rarely remember the night terror the following morning. If night terrors occur regularly, keep a journal and be sure to discuss with your child’s doctor.



Approximately 15 percent of potty-trained kids under the age of 5 will have an occasional nighttime accident. It can happen due to deep sleep, a full bladder, constipation, or illness. If it happens once in a while, don’t focus on the accident itself. Anxiety over bedwetting may cause children to be worried about falling asleep. Help your child succeed at not wetting the bed by limiting liquids too close to bed and make sure they use the rest-room before sleep.


Many children may not experience any of these common childhood sleep problems. Whether these things come up regularly or irregularly, if you have concerns over your child’s sleep habits, it is best to speak with their pediatrician. If they are happening regularly, try to keep a journal so you can remember all of the journals when speaking to your child’s doctor.