Sleep Problems That Keep Kids Up at Night

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Any parent knows that a child's bedtime troubles don’t end after he moves out of the crib. Kids of all ages can have trouble sleeping through the night for a variety of reasons—some of which may surprise you. Identifying the root cause of your little one’s sleep issues can help the whole family get better rest. To help you get started, read on for five reasons why kids may lie awake at night.

Wetting the Bed

Middle-of-the-night accidents are fairly common (15 percent of children will wet the bed by age five). They can be caused by genetics, a small bladder, constipation, sleeping very deeply, and, in rare cases, an underlying medical condition. While accidents can be frustrating for both you and your tot, it’s important to keep your cool. Stay calm, be supportive if your child does wet himself, and reward dry nights with hugs and small treats, like stickers.


Your child’s imagination starts to develop during the toddler years, and it really takes off between ages three and five. If your little one wakes up from a bad dream, it’s best not to discuss the nightmare, as that can make things worse. Instead, comfort your child (such as by rubbing her back) and gently tell her to go back to sleep.


Kids who drink caffeinated beverages sleep less than those who don’t, so skip the soda with dinner. Caffeine acts as a stimulant, and even if you have an early supper, it can interfere with rest, because it takes about six hours for the body to eliminate just half of the caffeine.

Too Much Tech

If your child’s phone is glued to his hand during the evening hours, it may disrupt sleep. That’s because the blue light that cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other electronic gadgets emit suppress melatonin, the hormone that helps control your sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to fall asleep. Plus, if your child keeps his phone in the bedroom, late-night texts may keep him up hours past his bedtime. Establish a family rule that all cell phones get turned off or stored outside the bedroom at night.

Sleep Apnea

While the disorder is typically thought of as an adult issue, one to four percent of children have sleep apnea. Talk to your pediatrician if you notice that your child snores frequently, tosses and turns throughout the night, has night sweats, or experiences pauses in breathing while she sleeps.