Insomnia affects nearly a quarter of children. Insomnia can cause difficulties with falling asleep, frequent awakenings during the night, and waking up too early in the morning. As a result of insomnia children can be tired, irritable, become more anxious, have difficulty at school, and even develop stomachaches.
Sometimes, when children have difficulty falling asleep one of their parents may lie down with them at night until they fall asleep. When such a pattern is established often the child depends on the parent to help them fall asleep, and if the child awakens at night, he or she may awaken the parent to again help them fall back asleep. This leads the parents to develop problems related to insufficient sleep!
There are many reasons that cause children to have difficulty falling asleep. In some instances, children can become anxious about whether they are going to fall asleep quickly and this leads to further difficulty in falling asleep. Some children are unable to fall asleep because of anxious thoughts such as about school or scary characters they might have seen in movies. Others are afraid of falling asleep because they might have nightmares. Less common are children who do not want to fall asleep for fearing of missing out on fun nighttime activities.
Children sometimes wake up in the middle of the night because they need to go to the restroom, nightmares, noises in the house, and even uncomfortable room temperature.
As with many conditions, before employment of hypnosis to facilitate treatment, it is important to reduce potential triggers of insomnia. For example, children who deal with insomnia should avoid drinking caffeinated beverages, exercising close to bedtime, using electronics close to bedtime, or sleeping with pets. Their bedroom should have a comfortable temperature. Children should avoid studying or playing on their beds, so that their bodies learn to associate lying in bed with going to sleep.
To help themselves fall asleep, children can be taught how to use hypnosis to imagine themselves falling asleep in a gently rocking hammock, drinking a sleeping draught (such as Professor Snape’s for children who enjoy Harry Potter stories), or manipulating a sleep dial. With the latter technique, children can be taught to imagine a control room in their brain in which they can turn a dial one way to become drowsier and sleepier and the other way to become wide awake and alert. In the office, we always complete the sleep dial exercise by turning it to the alert setting!
To help deal with nighttime fears young children can be taught to have one of their favorite superheroes guarding them at bedtime, or even use of a forcefield around their bed. The superheroes can also help combat scary nightmares.
Sometimes, interactions with the subconscious can help resolve insomnia. With one 10-year-old, his subconscious said that the computer should be removed from his room as a way to solve his insomnia. It turned out that the boy was sneaking out of bed to use the computer once the lights were out!
Hypnotic imagery can help treat insomnia by addressing many of the reasons that kids cannot fall asleep easily or wake up in the middle of the night.
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