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Could her sleep problem be related to her hearing problems?

AskanExpert Community member Posts: 2 Listener
edited August 2016 in Sensory impairments


  • AskanExpert
    AskanExpert Community member Posts: 2 Listener
    Hi, I am a community nurse and I work with an 11 year old girl who has a moderate learning disability and severe hearing loss. She has a cochlear implant and has 40% hearing in her left ear when her hearing aid is insitu. She has a significant sleep problem - once her hearing aid is removed and she goes to bed she cries - for hours at a time before finally falling alseep. Parents have to sit with her until she falls asleep. She wakes several times in the night and cries again; parents have to sit with her again until she falls asleep. Could her sleep problem be related to her hearing problems? I was wondering if she could be experiencing anything unpleasant once her hearing aid is removed, e.g. tinnitus. If hearing loss and/or removal of her hearing aid is causing the sleep problem, do you have any suggestions on how to help overcome this problem. Many Thanks, Christine
  • VickiKirwin
    VickiKirwin Community member Posts: 69 Courageous
    Hi Christine

    Sleep problems do seem to be quite a common problem for deaf children and their families. They may be behavioural and should be managed like hearing children but there are a couple of additional dimensions worth considering. For example, it can be a very frightening experience to be plunged into darkness with no vision or hearing - hearing children can be soothed by their parents voices and other sounds from outside their bedroom but this isn't possible for deaf children. A significant proportion of deaf children have problems with their balance which relies on the inner ear and vision so in the dark a deaf child may feel particuarly disorientated (and may wobble more than usual) - I've heard from one deaf parent who has deaf children that she finds her kids like to be swaddled or just tucked in really firmly to help them feel 'grounded' (knowing where they are). Also it is possible that she has tinnitus and this can be quite loud and intrusive particularly at night time and when hearing aids are taken off. Is she able to give you an indication of what upsets her at night? Does she feel secure in knowing she can find her parents when needed - are there stairgates and lights on so that she could find mum and dad if needed - this may help her feel more secure in her own room. A nightlight, torch, moving lights that project pictures onto the wall or leaving the landing light on may help. Could she put a light on herself and perhaps play in bed or look at books etc until she drops off to sleep again? It's not very comfortable to lie on a hearing aid or cochlear implant but it won't do any harm - if it helps the parents could remove them after she has fallen asleep. Is she able to put them in and take them off herself? If she is then she could keep them on her bedside table so that she can put it on during the night if she wanted to. If she doesn't have enough language to explain concepts yet parents sometimes use a photo diary on the wall eg using a strip of velcro on the wall with the photos in order - bath, story, teddy, kiss, bed, breakfast... and take it off the wall as each is completed. There are also some good clocks for young children on the market where the rabbit (or other animal) wakes up in the morning and these can be good for helping kids know they should be in bed and asleep when the rabbit is. Choose one with a nighlight option if a separate nightlight isn't used.


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