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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

Learn More

Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Treatment for Sleep Issues

While adults who have a brain injury commonly experience difficulties sleeping, it is thought that children, as well as infants, may also experience sleep issues. These could include disturbed sleep, trouble falling asleep, and difficulty waking up in the mornings.

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Why Bedtime Routines Are Important for Babies with Brain Injuries

Clear, set bedtime routines are essential for babies and children, especially those with a brain injury. These children may need a little longer than others to wind down. Great ways to encourage healthy sleeping patterns include:

Elk & Elk
  • Bath time
  • Story time
  • Turning off stimulating activities like the computer or TV at a set time each night
  • Don’t let your little one overdo it during the day. While this may sound counter-productive, being overly tired can make it harder to sleep.
  • Try to make your child’s bed and even your bedroom and place where they want to settle down and go to sleep.
  • Try to maintain regular hours. Take your child to bed each night and then wake them up at the same time every day.
  • Don’t let your child have sugary drinks like hot chocolate at night. Instead, offer them milk.

Parenting Factors Can Influence Your Child’s Sleep Patterns

Poor limit setting, lack of routine, and paying too much attention to your little one’s reluctance to settle down and get to sleep can cause or exacerbate sleeping issues.

In a variety of ways, parenting factors can be influential throughout childhood and well into adolescence in terms of the origin, severity, and the maintenance of sleep problems experienced in childhood.

If your child has a brain injury, it is just as important to assess your parenting skills and your ability to promote good sleep patterns. These skills may be impaired if you are stressed out, sleep deprived, depressed, and anxious because of your child’s sleep issues.

Parents of children with brain injuries experience a great deal of distress when their child’s needs are not met.

Managing Sleep Disorders in Children with Brain Injuries

The merits of both non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatments have been reported to help children with their sleeping problems. For instance, stimulant drugs, hypnotic or sedative drugs, melatonin, and cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia have been reported to be helpful.

While formal evidence of certain treatments has yet to be established, there are several types of treatment recommended for children’s sleep issues, including:

  • Behavioral methods
  • Melatonin
  • Chronotherapy for circadian sleep-wake disorders – this therapy reschedules the sleep period
  • Physical methods including continuous positive airway pressure and weight reduction

An important aspect of treatment for these issues is the education of parents in terms of good sleep habits and sleep hygiene. Explanation, sustained support, and guidance, for you, the parents, is an essential part of the overall care of your child’s sleep problems.

Unfortunately, measures for assessing outcome in those children who have incurred a brain injury at birth, often ignore sleep behavior, and many are not followed up. It is therefore important to work with therapists and physicians to develop a healthy sleeping pattern for your child.