I have bad insomnia. Is my little one at risk for developing insomnia?
It is true that sleep disturbances such as insomnia tend to run in families. This may be both for genetic reasons (you pass your genes onto your children which may increase his or her risk of developing insomnia) and environmental ones (perhaps you live in a place which is not conducive to sleeping well, such as a noisy or bright environment for example).
It’s useful to know about risk so that we know who is vulnerable to developing problems and to do what we can to support them. For example, in some cases, parents may be unaware that their child is struggling to fall asleep or waking during the night – so it can be useful to ask your children about their sleep when they are old enough and to monitor what is going on. It makes sense to do what you can to support good sleep practices, such as a good sleep routine, in vulnerable children too.
Of course, risk doesn’t mean certainty and just because you have insomnia, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your little one will go on to develop insomnia too. In fact, there is a very good chance that they will not! What’s more, being at risk for insomnia, whether for genetic or environmental reasons, does not mean that there is nothing that can be done to treat these difficulties. Quite the contrary. We now know that there are multiple effective ways to deal with insomnia symptoms in both children and adults – so please do talk to your healthcare provider if you or your child is struggling with sleep.About Dr. Alice Gregory