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Incorrect habits

The most frequent pathology is childhood insomnia due to incorrect habits. Between six months and five years of age, children with these disorders present both difficulties in initiating sleep and disturbances throughout sleep, with frequent awakenings at night. Sometimes the alterations are due to lack of routines or poorly established limits.

In many cases these children are completely normal, with no psychological or psychiatric problems. Their only pathology is that they “only sleep badly”. Dr. Estivill assures that the persistence of this alteration results in a serious disorder in the structure of sleep.

They are children who do not sleep the necessary hours, do not let the growth hormone that is secreted during the first hours after the beginning of sleep act and cause serious problems in the family structure, because they create conflicts and nerves. There are internal and external synchronizers, the former are not very modifiable. The external ones are sunlight, noise and silence, the times of eating, going to bed and getting up, the external elements associated with sleep and above all the attitude of the parents to teach a correct habit. The most modifiable external synchronizer is sleep routines and habits.

According to the doctor, the child learns to associate external synchronizers such as noise and light with wakefulness and silence and darkness with sleep. An infant at six or seven months should already have a well-established 24-hour sleep-wake rhythm. You should sleep during the night an average of 11 to 12 hours, starting your sleep between 20 and 21 hours and waking up between 7 and 9 in the morning. You should also take three naps. One after breakfast, for one to two hours, one after the midday meal, which can be two to three hours, and one after the afternoon snack, for a shorter duration.

Now it is the parents who have to learn to make the children sleep; that is, learn to form habits through the repeated association of the same external elements and the attitude transmitted by the parents when teaching the habit. The child must learn to initiate sleep alone, associating the act of sleeping with certain external elements.

The coordinator of the Estivill Sleep Clinic, Francisco Javier Segarra, points out that 20% of the population suffers from transitory insomnia and 10% from chronic insomnia.

Segarra pointed out that bad sleep habits may be the determining cause of insomnia.

Frequent variations in schedules can produce irregular sleep-wake patterns that will condition the onset of insomnia.

The expert pointed out that among the factors that cause insomnia are sleep apnea, which are respiratory arrest caused by micro-awakenings, or restless legs syndrome, which occurs when the patient is awake and cannot fall asleep.

One of the situations highlighted by Segarra is the delayed phase syndrome in adolescents, many young people are not able to sleep before 3 or 4 a.m., and sometimes it is not considered a physiological problem, but a problem of attitude.