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Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy a Successful Remedy for DSPS in Kids?

Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) is not confined to adults only it affects a large number of children as well. According to psychologists and doctors as many as 30 % children suffer of this at some stage of their childhood. However, DSPS in children is different to that of in adults. The difference lies in the physiology, pathophysiology, psychological, behavioral and developmental aspects. A physician tries to determine two things while diagnosing DSPS in a child- is it sleep problem or a variation from a normal developmental stage and is the sleep problem hereditary. DSPS in children results from causes like behavioral factors, circadian rhythm disorders and hypersomnia. Researchers have found that use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in children can be effective in curing DSPS.

Behavioral problems are found in kids with sleep problems

How does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

A new born baby in normal conditions sleeps for 16 to 18 hours per day. This time of sleep slowly reduces and a child of 3 to 5 years will require 10 hours of sleep followed by 8 hours among 14-18 years. The ability of a child to regulate sleep is a developmental characteristic. Studies have found that a rise in behavioral problems in children often make them poor sleepers. Parents of such children have reported disobeying and violent conduct. It has been found that such children also have a short attention span and angst of some sort. Cognitive behavioral therapy is non- medicinal in nature. Here a number of steps are initiated to make it effective. Children are taught the basics of sleep and why it is important. They are enabled to control negative thoughts that diminish sleepiness. Parents are told not to allow their children to lie awake on the bed. They should be allowed to go to bed only when they are sleepy. The child’s bedroom should be used only to sleep and not for any other purpose. The therapy also thrusts on physical activity and proper diet for children that will promote sleep. Relaxation training is also a part of this treatment procedure. The therapists use biofeedback device to record the sleep pattern of the child and maintain a sleep diary.

How Effective is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy to treat DSPS in children has some advantages over medications. Firstly, it saves them from the side effects of the drugs like melatonin that usually manifest in most children. It is very effective in curing  long -term sleep problems. Studies have found that medicine when stopped may restore the old sleeping syndrome in the patient. This therapy which addresses the underlying causes of the ailment will cure it for good. However, this takes a longer time and patience. It is not easy to apply it on children as they are difficult to be brought under regulations.

Biofeedback device monitors sleep patterns under CBT

 Final Words on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

I hope this article on cognitive behavioral therapy was useful and wish all parents luck in finding suitable remedy for their children’s sleep problems.