Why Children Seem to Get More Sick in the Middle of the Night

How to prevent night time worsening of symptoms during the night

You dread the calling out in the middle of the night.  Your.   tired body can barely respond to the hacking cough cough cough coming from down the hall.  Lucas has been sick for several days now.  He's been to the doctor and gotten the appropriate medications.  You've cared for him conscientiously.  You thought he was on the road to recovery, yet, here it is a little after midnight and the symptoms are back with a vengence.  Why is he having a setback?  Why are his symptoms worse at night?  And when will he and you ever get a decent night's sleep?  Here are some items to consider as you nurse your little one back to health:

*Sometimes children aren't really sicker, but the repose that comes over the house after a boisterous day causes you to be more aware of symptoms.  Be sure to check that your child isn't laboring unduly to breathe and wait it out before you panic to see if he settles into a restful sleep.

*At other times the symptoms DO seem to exacerbate.   The coughing that was minimal during the day rages now as your little one tries to get the healing sleep so necessary to heal.  If your child's difficulties are upper respiratory, there are some things you might do to circumvent the worsening of symptoms.  When a child with nasal or bronchial congestion lies down, phlegm pools in the nasal and bronchial cavities causing the child to experience breathing difficulties and a compounding of the congestive disturbances.  A vaporizer can help to alleviate this problem, but elevating the child's head by placing several rolled towels under the head of the mattress will help even more.  After raising the head of the bed, you may notice that your little one drifts to the foot of the bed...a natural tendency due to the incline.  If a smaller bed is available that might minimize the 'drifting' this would be preferable.  For instance, a 3 year old might be returned to a port-a-crib for the night/s until congestion has subsided.

* If the congestion seems to be mainly nasal, encourage your child to blow his nose.  Many children have an aversion to this for some reason, but you might make a game out of it.  As gross as it may sound to say "Blow" and then delighting over the 'big booger' by unwrapping the tissue, this has saved many a parent from a restless night.  It may be necessary for you to demonstrate the process to your child.  OK, stop wrinkling your nose.  This could mean the difference between a good night's sleep and frantically running from your room to your child's room during the night.

*Another thing to consider is room temperature.  When a child runs a high temperature and experiences chilling, a parent's first response is to dress them warmly and pile layers of blankets and quilts on the child as he sleeps.  This will hold the temperature in and cause the child to be more uncomfortable.  The best line of action is to dress the child in thin nightwear, daddy's t-shirt is about the proper thickness, and cover with only a sheet or light blanket.  Check the thermostat.  According to the book Power Sleep by Dr. James B. Mass, "65º F is the ideal temperature for sleeping. A warm room or too many blankets can interrupt your sleep."  And this is when situations are normal.  The detrimental effects of a warm room only increase when a child's body temperature is already elevated.

* Creating your own steam room can prepare a child  for a restful night's sleep and help to clear bronchial, lung, and nasal congestion.  Go into the bathroom and sit with your child or hold him in your lap on the floor - good bonding time.  Turn the shower on high hot to create steam.  Stay with your child  for fifteen minutes.  You may benefit as well enjoying the inhalation of the moist, healing steam.  Sing songs together or tell your child a story as you enjoy the together, knowing that this may insure you of some ALONE time during the night.

* Limiting the intake of dairy products, especially if your child's difficulties involve congestion, can keep airways mucous free.  According to a yoga and pilates instructor with two small children of her own -"If you suffer from seasonal allergies, and your symptoms involve nasal and sinus congestion 24-7, you may want to take a look at the dairy in your diet. Dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream may be makin your allergy symptoms worse. Casein, the naturally occurring protein in dairy products, can promote the formation of mucus. It can also make existing mucus thicker in your nose and sinuses, leaving you completely congested."

* Encourage your child to drink clear, pure water throughout the day to circumvent problems later on.

Children are resilient and soon pass through minor illnesses with amazing speed.  The techniques mentioned in this article will help you and your child to bridge those 'night time' traumas until the difficulty is a thing of the past.


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