Assessing and Treating Sleep Difficulties in Anxious Children and Adolescents


Swan, A., & Carpenter, J. (2018). Assessing and treating sleep difficulties in anxious children and adolescents. Journal of Health Service Psychology, 44, 7–13.


Ten percent of children experience anxiety disorders, and the majority of them also have sleep-related problems. A multi-step process is recommended to help children and adolescents with anxiety achieve independent and sufficient sleep, which includes 1) establishing good sleep hygiene to set the stage for quality sleep, 2) using cognitive behavioral therapy with exposures to help children and adolescents learn to manage anxiety that interferes with sleep, 3) using behavioral sleep interventions to address poor sleep onset associations and other sleep specific concerns, and 4) tailoring interventions throughout treatment to match caregiver and child needs. Parent guidance and training is essential to help change maladaptive sleeping patterns.


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