Childhood Insomnia on the Rise

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Childhood Insomnia on the Rise

Too Much Television May Contribute to Childhood Insomnia

childhood insomniaAlthough insomnia in New York is more prevalent among adults, it also occurs in children. Experts estimate that approximately 40% of children have, at some point, had such difficulty sleeping that their parents felt it was significant. Usually insomnia in children is mild and transient, but sometimes it can be a symptom of an underlying disorder, such as depression or anxiety. Recently, researchers have conducted studies that suggest too much television may actually be a contributing factor in many cases of childhood insomnia in New York.

Symptoms and Treatments for Childhood Insomnia in New York

Insomnia in children can be difficult to diagnose and treat, and often the cause of the sleeplessness is not readily apparent. A child who is suffering from insomnia may:

  • Be unable to fall asleep after being put to bed
  • Be unable to get back to sleep if they are woken up during the night
  • Feel chronically tired and groggy
  • May behave erratically or be unusually moody

Pediatric insomnia in New York is usually a symptom of a deeper problem, often something psychological. A physician may recommend that a child with insomnia be evaluated for anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, or other psychological disorders that can cause difficulty sleeping. Medication is rarely, if ever, used for insomnia in children. Behavioral changes are often recommended, such as:

  • Enforcing a regular sleep schedule with a consistent bedtime
  • Using a 20-minute “cool-down” period before bed
  • Eliminating sugar and stimulants, such as caffeine, later in the day


Television and Insomnia in New York

Research within the last decade or so has produced evidence that television may be a major factor that contributes to insomnia in children. In a 2004 study evaluating teenagers and young adults, those who watched more than three hours of television per day were more than twice as likely to have difficulty sleeping as those who watched less. Another study, in 2011, looked at video games and computer use in addition to television viewing. They found that in three to five-year-old children, watching violent television during the day was more likely to cause insomnia than nonviolent programming. Screening media viewing after 7:00 p.m. was also strongly recommended to help avoid insomnia in children.

There are several reasons why television viewing may affect sleep in children and teenagers. In the young children examined in the 2011 study, it is possible that violent programming was more likely to cause nightmares, anxiety, and other psychological factors that contribute to insomnia. Experts theorize that watching television puts the viewer into a more alert, mentally aroused state, making it difficult to wind down in order to get to sleep. More television viewing also implies less physical activity, and lack of exercise is known to contribute to insomnia. Another possible factor is that the wavelengths of light emitted from television and computer monitors can make it difficult to get to sleep by “tricking” a person’s circadian clock into thinking it’s the wrong time of day.

Insomnia is not as common in children as in adults, but pediatric insomnia in New York is known to occur. Most of the time, pediatric insomnia is actually a symptom of an underlying issue such as ADHD or depression; however, recent research has indicated that excessive television viewing and late-night television viewing may contribute to insomnia in children and teenagers. If your child is having trouble sleeping, it may be helpful to try limiting television, video games, and computer use late in the evening, as well as restricting overall viewing time. It can also be helpful to remove televisions or computers from the child’s room, if it is feasible or possible to do so.

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