Sleep Problems in Children with Separation Anxiety
Sleep problems in children with separation anxiety are common. Nighttime is a period of long separation from parents and may trigger children's worst fears. Children who have separation anxiety may begin the worry about going to sleep several hours before bedtime. Getting them in bed and through their nighttime routine can be difficult.
Lack of Sleep Exacerbates the Anxiety
Once in bed, these children may continue to worry and ruminate on and off throughout the night. Unfortunately, sleep problems in children with separation anxiety can exacerbate their day time anxiety.
Think about how your day goes when you have had a sleepless and anxiety filled night. You feel tired worn down and less able to use your best coping skills.
Lack of a sound sleep has the same impact on children. Sleep deprived kids will be more vulnerable to feel overwhelmed,depressed, and anxious during the day time.
It is important to insure your child gets a sound sleep, and probably important to you and your family that they follow their evening routine and settle as easily as possible.
Typical symptoms of sleep problems in children with separation anxiety include:
There is a wonderful children’s book” Bedtime for Frances” that illustrates the phenomena of delaying separation from parents at bedtime.
Frances, a little badger is put to bed by her mother. Frances is convinced that there are frightening things in her room that will surely get her if she is left alone. She comes up with every tactic imaginable not to be alone in the room. Her badger parents at first patient, begin to lose their temper as the story progresses.
Although we can laugh at the strategies children use to keep from having to go to bed, sleep problems in children are serious, disruptive, and upsetting to the entire family.
What can you do to help an anxious child feel safe enough to sleep through the night?
For example, if your child is afraid of something happening to you tell them what your routine will be after they go to bed. Ensure them other people will be up in the house to take care of you or whatever it takes to assuage their fears.
If they are afraid of something happening to them you can get a night light, leave the door ajar, or check on them to assure them they are safe. If you have the flexibility to, you can move the child's bedroom so they are closer to you.
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