Helping your Sleepless Child

Parents Guide on Supporting
Insomnia in Your Child

Insomnia, or sleeplessness, can be a deeply frustrating and difficult experience. When we have trouble sleeping, it carries into the rest of our lives. The lack of sleep affects productivity and focus the next day, making it difficult to function. Beyond productivity, it can be disheartening when we are lying in bed wanting to sleep but unable to.

Watching your child deal with sleeplessness can be distressing. When they struggle, you struggle. So let’s look at how you can support them through these sleepless nights.

So what is insomnia? It’s more than just difficulty falling asleep. Insomnia can also include trouble staying asleep or experiencing non-restorative sleep. Some children may experience acute insomnia due to specific events, while others might face chronic insomnia that persists over time. Insomnia in children is not uncommon and it will usually resolve in time. Here are some tips for supporting your child: 

Establish a Bedtime Routine

Our bodies can be thrown off when our bedtime routines are so inconsistent. While there is room for flexibility, it’s important to respond to insomnia by creating a regular routine before bedtime for your child. Choose a consistent bedtime and make the process to get there as calming as possible. 

It’s been shown that putting the phone away an hour before bedtime to calm the mind down helps. Reading a good story or book aloud to your child is both enjoyable and calming. When they are a bit older, encourage them to read a book in bed. Bedtime can be a time to relax, unwind and connect, even if sleep is hard to come by.

Be Available

The quiet of the night can be lonely. It’s often when our mind wanders most and ultimately a time we can feel most helpless. If you know your child is having trouble sleeping, be quietly available for them. If their sleeplessness is especially distressing, quietly stay with them for a bit. Even if you don’t have an answer, your presence is invaluable during this time.

Open Communication

Oftentimes, sleeplessness can be related to unresolved or difficult incidents in their past. Make space during the pre-bedtime hours for your child to process their feelings, as well as regularly discuss their sleeping patterns. Not only does talking about it relieve stress they’re holding onto but verbal processing may help them understand what they’re feeling and why. Furthermore, understanding more about their mindset will help you establish more tangible ways you can support them.

Teach Coping Skills

There are multiple skills both during day and night that can help ease a troubled mind and create a conducive sleep environment. Teach your child mindfulness and relaxation techniques to manage stress and anxiety. Simple techniques like guided imagery or progressive muscle relaxation can be effective. Also encourage daily physical activity, which helps to tire the body out before bedtime.


If your child’s insomnia persists, it may be time to consult a healthcare professional. A pediatrician or sleep specialist can help identify any underlying issues and provide tailored guidance to improve your child’s sleep, including the discussion of medication. 

Dealing with a child’s insomnia can be challenging, but with patience, understanding, and the right strategies, you can help your child establish healthy sleep patterns. Remember to be patient in the process and hold onto the guarantee that at the end of every night comes the morning. If you and your child need more support, please connect with a member of our team at Decade2Connect today.

Our Intensive Outpatient Program is in-network with United!