Sleep problems in children

Aust Fam Physician. 2015 Dec;44(12):880-3.


Background: Childhood sleep problems are common, and frequently reduce the wellbeing and functioning of both child and family. The majority of childhood sleep problems are behavioural in origin.

Objective: This article outlines the aetiology and features of sleep difficulties in children, from infants to teenagers, and provides a corresponding 'toolkit' of evidence-based behavioural management strategies.

Discussion: Childhood behavioural sleep problems manifest across age groups as various forms of difficulty initiating and/or maintaining sleep. These difficulties are often amenable to home-based behavioural interventions, which can be taught to parents and, de-pending on their developmental stage, the child or adolescent. Sustaining the intervention for sufficient sleep duration can be challenging for families. Community health practitioners play a central role in tailoring the explanation of management strategies to families and children or adolescents. Sleep diaries and education materials from evidence-based websites can assist the practitioner and family in achieving successful diagnosis and treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / etiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*