Home » Sleep Disorders » Child Insomnia
August 2020  |  Reviewed by: John Saito, MD and Shelley Hershner, MD

What is child insomnia?

A form of child insomnia called bedtime resistance occurs when children don’t go to bed on time unless a parent or guardian enforces a bedtime. If the children are made to go to bed on time, then they tend to fall asleep at a normal hour. If they are not given strict bedtimes, then they may linger awake for hours at night.

This disorder occurs commonly in young children. Adults may also have varying bedtimes and poor sleep schedules, but this is not called child insomnia.

What are symptoms of child insomnia?

Children with insomnia may:

  • Demonstrate bedtime resistance by asking for repeating glasses of water, book reading, or other distractions
  • Have no problem falling asleep with an enforced bedtime
  • Stay awake as long as possible without an enforced bedtime
  • Have parents that struggle with maintaining a regular sleep and wake schedule

It is important to assess the habits of all parents or guardians who help put the child to bed. The child often will fight and resist when parents or adults try to keep a regular sleep schedule. The adult normally has no idea how it all began.