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Child insomnia: What to do when your kid can’t sleep

We’ve all been there.

It’s 2 a.m. and your child still refuses to fall asleep or stay asleep. The loving part of your heart knows that such an occasion requires good parenting, but the exhausted part of your heart is completely fed up. So what’s a parent to do, besides curse at the ceiling?

If you’re right in the middle of a sleepless night, there are several ways you can address the problem in the moment. Try the following fixes for your little insomniac:

A yoga stretch. The “legs up the wall” stretch is an inversion that cues the central nervous system to calm down. Watch this video to learn the move and encourage your little one to try the pose for a few minutes if he or she is restless.

Draw a bath. A warm bath causes a change in body temperature, which may signal to your child’s body that it’s time to fall asleep already.

Try a relaxation technique. You can simply breathe deeply with your child or use meditation to encourage relaxation. Meditation doesn’t have to be difficult. Ask your child to slowly contract and then relax the individual muscles in his or her body and that will often do the trick.

Of course, it’s important to remember that your best defense is a good offense. Child insomnia is often preventable in the first place, but you have to understand how your child’s habits can contribute to a poor night of sleep so you can institute different house rules. If your child regularly struggles to get the sleep he or she needs, the Cleveland Clinic suggests you make the following changes to your family’s nighttime routine.

Turn off the devices. Electronics interfere with natural sleep cycles, so make sure that your child turns off his or her TV, phone, video games or tablets an hour before bedtime.

Keep it regular. No matter what’s going on in your family or what day of the week it is, stick to the same bedtime and morning wake-up time to encourage a healthy circadian rhythm.

Banish naps. If your child is past the toddler phase, a nap isn’t necessary and will likely interfere with a normal bedtime. Wean your child so he or she will sleep better at night.

Block out time for relaxation. It’s unlikely that your kid will respond well if he or she tries to fall asleep five minutes after packing up homework for the night. Use the 30 minutes before bedtime for meditation, relaxing music and story time. The ritual will signal to your child’s brain that it’s time to fall asleep.

Make the room sleep-friendly. Make sure that light isn’t flooding into your child’s room at night, as ambient light can interrupt sleep rhythms. Also, it’s wise to keep the room between 60 and 68 degrees at night for optimal sleep.

If you’ve tried these troubleshooting and prevention techniques and still can’t find relief, call your child’s doctor for help.

This post is brought to you by The Cleveland Clinic. For more sleep tips to help you Dream Big, go to

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