A reader writes:
My seven month old is an awful sleeper. He used to wake up 15-20 times a night screaming. I called the pediatrician a million times until we finally got in with the gastroenterologist. He's been on 5 medications for reflux, but he still sleeps extremely poorly. I had NO idea babies could have such a hard time with sleep before this. You always hear people idealizing a baby's sleep.
I see this all the time in my sleep disorders clinic: parents who struggle not only with getting their child to sleep through the night, but with their own sleep deprivation which results from the child's sleep problems. This is then made worse when they blame themselves for "doing something wrong," and are embarrassed to seek out help.
Sleep distrubances in kids are actually very common, affecting 20-30% of all children. In most cases, they are easily and readily treatable. If you find yourself at a dead-end, don't despair. Seek out the help you need so that you and your child will sleep better. There are many resources you might consider, including my own book, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Successful Sleep Strategies for Kids, You may also find that meeting face-to-face with someone with expertise in this area is very helpful.
Best of luck!
Dennis Rosen, M.D.
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