Sleep and health are inextricably linked. When your baby wakes at night and cannot settle to sleep, one of the thoughts that will go through your head is whether they are ill. If your baby is usually a good sleeper and suddenly has a few very bad nights, it is certainly a reasonable concern and worth looking into.
If your newborn is never asleep for longer than 45 minutes to an hour day and night – it is also possible that there are underlying health issues that are causing poor sleep. If your toddler has been a great sleeper and can self-soothe to sleep but starts waking and can’t go back to sleep, you may also need to look at possible health issues.
Health issues that can really disrupt sleep
Reflux or the regurgitation of milk curds can burn the esophagus and causes discomfort when lying horizontally. This is more prevalent in younger babies and if your baby is unsettled and never sleeps for long periods, you need to rule this out with a qualified healthcare professional.
Chronic health issues
If your baby’s sleep has gradually degenerated and they are unsettled at night over a period of time you will want to rule out chronic health issues. These can include glue ear, an iron deficiency and allergies.
Teething can cause sleep disruptions but usually only for a few nights as your baby’s teeth erupt. Beware of blaming long-term sleep issues on teething.
Acute illnesses or periods of hospitalisation wreck havoc with sleep. Your baby will sleep poorly and need more comfort when feeling off colour, especially if in hospital. You will notice symptoms of the illness during daylight hours and this is usually accompanied by poor feeding. Sleep issues that arise as consequence of illness and hospitalisation need to addressed once your baby is well.
Worms can affect your toddler and if your toddler has a worm infestation, she will be very unsettled as she wakes at night. Deworm your toddler once older than 2 years of age.
If your baby is on medication of any type and her sleep is poor, ask your doctor if the medication can affect sleep. Some medications have a stimulant effect and lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep.
Speak to your doctor about any health concerns you might be worried about. And once your little one has a clean bill of health, follow these steps to get them back into a healthy sleep routine. Or download Parent Sense and get a suggested routine with awake times and reminders to take the guesswork out of sleep routines.