Are you worried because your child or family:

  • Has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking in the morning?
  • Has bad dreams or nightmares?

When a child is in the hospital, noise, vital sign checks, and pain, and worries are common causes of sleep problems. Back at home, some sleep problems after an injury or illness are a temporary reaction to disruptions in your child’s schedule and routines. Sleep problems can be made worse by pain, or by worries and thoughts that make it hard to relax.

How can you help your child sleep?

  • Promote healthy sleep patterns

When your child is in the hospital, sleep is an important part of healing, so talk with the health care team about what can be done to promote and protect your child’s sleep as much as possible.

  • Bad dreams can be normal response

Help your child understand that bad dreams can be a natural response when things are stressful or scary, and will probably get better. If bad dreams wake your child in the night, listen (briefly) to what was in their dreams, give them a hug and help them feel safe, and help them get back to sleep.

  • At home, set up (or continue) regular bedtime routines

This can help your child relax before falling asleep. Work with your child to create bedtime routines that make sense for your family. For younger kids, read a story or spend quiet time together just before tucking them into bed. For older children and teens, help create good sleep habits and routines, and help them take charge of following these routines themselves.

  • Manage pain

If your child has pain that is making it hard to fall asleep or waking them up during the night, talk with your child’s nurse or doctor about controlling pain at bedtime and through the night.

  • Keep a list of concerns and questions

If your child is losing sleep most nights for more than a week because of bad dreams, pain,or other reasons, it’s a good idea to talk with your child’s nurse or doctor about it.

Helpful Resources:

Does my child need talk to someone? / Do I need to talk to someone?