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Dusan is a biologist, a science enthusiast and a huge nature lover. He loves to keep up to date with all the new research and write accurate science-based articles. When he’s not writing or reading, you can find him in the kitchen, trying out new delicious recipes; out in the wild, enjoying the nature or sleeping in his bed.

Sleep Onset Association Disorder

If your child is experiencing sleeping difficulties, they might have a Sleep Onset Association Disorder (SOAD). This disorder can develop when a child associates a specific environment or a person with falling asleep.

It is very stressful being a new parent. No matter how much you read about parenting, you often find yourself not knowing what to do in some situations. You are always worrying if you are doing good, or if your child is okay, but that’s completely fine, everybody feels this way.

Sleep in children can be particularly problematic. They often wake up during the night, they fight to stay awake and don’t want to go to bed, and that can result in one very long and sleepless night for you too. Children between the age of nine months and two years wake up two times per night on average. However, some may wake up as much as nine times each night, and cause a lot of concerns for their parents.

If your child is experiencing sleeping difficulties, they might have a Sleep Onset Association Disorder (SOAD). This disorder can develop when a child associates a specific environment or a person with falling asleep. For instance, a child is used to be nursed, rocked, or held before sleeping, and every time they wake up, they require this action to fall back to sleep. Sleeping in a sibling’s or parent’s bed, or falling asleep in a car are common as well.

It is estimated that as much as up to 50% of all the infants, and 15-20% of toddlers experience SOAD.

Parents unintentionally reinforce the behaviors that are associated with Sleep Onset Association Disorder. You might think that rushing in every time your baby wakes up, picking them up and rocking them back to sleep might be a good idea, but it is much more important to reinforce independent sleep in children. By helping your child to sleep independently, you will have more time to rest, and the quality of your child’s sleep will be improved as well.

How to Treat Sleep Onset Association Disorder in Children

If your child has a SOAD, it is crucial to encourage them to fall asleep on their own. Sometimes it can be hard to eliminate the associations your child might have with falling asleep, especially when it includes your intervention. Be prepared for a lot of crying in the beginning, and always keep in mind that doesn’t make you a bad parent. It is essential to teach your child how to sleep on their own as that will improve their sleep. It can be hard, but be consistent. Expect for a child’s temperament to worsen at first, but then it gets better after a short period. Some of the evidence-based techniques for treating SOAD are:

You should also manage your child’s daytime naps so that they feel tired in the evening, and fall asleep more natural when they get to bed. You can introduce them to a transitional object that can help as well. Giving them a soft blanket, a stuffed animal or a doll can teach them to self-soothe, and fall asleep on their own.

Optimizing Sleep Hygiene in Children

Proper sleep hygiene in children will improve the quality of their sleep. It consists of:

Good news is that with proper sleep hygiene and usage of the techniques we’ve covered, your child should learn to sleep on their own, and their sleep quality should improve in no time. Don’t feel bad if they are crying at first and be persistent that is crucial.

Keep in mind that if your child is sick, you should take special care, and check on them more often. Also, if there are other sleep-related symptoms, you should visit a doctor. They can tell you if your child has insomnia or some other sleep disorder that can be found in children.

 

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