Sleep Medication for Toddlers

by Erin Schreiner
If your child struggles to sleep, sleep medication could be the answer.

If your child struggles to sleep, sleep medication could be the answer.

While a busy day of activity is enough to induce most toddlers to lull off to sleep at day's end, others need medical assistance in getting to sleep. If your toddler seems to struggle to catch the sleep he needs, he may be a candidate for sleep medication. Your toddler's sleep is important, and if he cannot get it on his own, you may need to provide him with assistance in the form of medication.

Prevalence

Sleep medicine prescription to children is a relatively common occurrence, reports WebMD, quoting a study that says that 18.6 million pediatrician visits related to sleep problems result in the prescription of sleep medication. Most prescriptions, however, are written for children who are between 6 and 12 years old. While less common, prescription of sleep medication to toddlers is still not unheard of. It may be the right option, depending on the type and severity of your child's sleep issues.

Sleep Medication Types

A number of sleep medications can be prescribed to children as young as toddlerhood, reports the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. These medications include Zaleplon, Benadryl, Ambien and Desyrel. Some manufacturers even offer liquids or reduced-dosage versions of their medications, specifically for children.

Particularly Challenging Sleepers

Some children are more prone to requiring sleep medication than others. Children who suffer from physical illness or psychiatric disorders may experience an increased need for medications of this type, reports Patient UK. Disorders, such as asthma, ADHD and mental retardation, often leave toddler sufferers struggling for sleeping, making the prescription of sleep medications necessary.

Impact on Sleep Apnea

One potentially negative side effect of a child taking sleep medication is an increased risk of sleep apnea, reports Patient UK. Sleep apnea, or a disorder in which the sufferer temporarily stops breathing during sleep, is believed to result from the depth of sleep the patient sinks into. If your toddler already has issues with sleep apnea, the presence of this disorder may preclude him from taking sleeping medication.

Best Approach

While sleep medication for toddlers is not completely out of the question, most health practitioners agree that parents should not rely on sleeping pills alone, reports WebMD. Medical professionals generally agree that sleep disorders should be treated with a combination of prescription medication and behavioral therapy for optimal success. In the absence of behavioral therapy, the struggling sleeper may never really overcome his sleep problems and simply develop a dependency upon medication.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

Photo Credits

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