Insomnia is frustrating enough if you suffer from it yourself, but if a child in the house is unable to sleep then everyone will be miserable right along with him. Insomnia often affects children with developmental delays such as autism, but can sometimes affect typically developing children as well.
There are several things you can try to help your child go to sleep. It is best not to resort to prescription medications if you don’t have to, because these drugs can be habit forming and create a long term dependency in your child that is difficult to overcome later. Such medications can also have side effects that are undesirable in anyone, especially a child. It is best to try natural sleep aids or behavioral strategies before resorting to any kind of drugs that can be harmful in the long run.
One very common natural sleep remedy is melatonin. Melatonin is produced in the body, and signals your brain that it is time to sleep. Sometimes, for various reasons, the body does not produce enough melatonin, and supplementation can help induce sleepiness. These supplements can be purchased in a natural foods store or even at most drug stores. They are inexpensive and all-natural, so they are easy to use and not habit forming. For young children, it may be helpful to get melatonin in a spray rather than in pill form. Sprays are easy to administer, and just one or two squirts is all they will need to feel drowsy.
Aside from sleep aids, either prescription or natural, there are behavioral methods you can try. Children thrive on routine, so putting them to bed and waking them up at the same time every day should be helpful. Also, having a predictable bedtime routine helps to signal their bodies that it is time to get sleepy. Getting enough exercise and sunlight during the day is another key to making sure your child is tired when bedtime arrives in the evening. Finally, if nothing else seems to work, you may want to evaluate whether your child needs as much sleep as you think. If he is functioning well enough during the day and doesn’t seem sleepy all the time, chances are he just doesn’t need as much sleep as other children his age.