Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee


Behavioral Insomnia of Childhood

Behavioral insomnia of childhood is characterized by a child’s difficulty getting to sleep and/or staying sleep, or poor quality sleep that is non-restorative. Behavioral insomnia of childhood is also associated with daytime consequences such as feeling fatigued or tired as a result of the difficulty sleeping. Childhood insomnia sufferers may also show moodiness, difficulty concentrating, increased errors at school, physical symptoms (such as GI discomfort, headaches, obesity), memory problems, learning disorders, and attention deficiency/hyperactivity. Behavioral insomnia of childhood also occurs as part of other sleep disorders (such as OSA, night terrors) in some cases. Insomnia during childhood usually falls into one of two categories: 1) sleep onset association type, or 2) limit setting type. The former involves a child’s inability to initiate or maintain sleep unless certain circumstances exist (e.g., the parent being present in order to initiate sleep). The latter involves parental behavioral related to setting limits at bedtime or during the night (e.g., allowing the child to get out of bed frequently – often referred to as “curtain calls”). Many children also suffer from a “combined” type insomnia disorder, meaning that both sleep onset association disorder and limit setting disorder characteristics are present. Behavioral insomnia of childhood is most often treated using cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) techniques for the child and/or parents.

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