Sleep Disorders In Children - Effects And Treatment

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Did you know that your child’s brain develops only when he is sleeping? That’s why experts stress the importance of good sleep for young kids. A child ideally should have 9-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.

Irregular sleeping behaviour of children is one of the most common concerns faced by parents these days. Like adults, kids too experience altered sleeping patterns, due to mental, physical or emotional stress. Drowsiness during the day, reluctance in going to bed or waking up frequently at night are some behavioural patterns that are not normal. These issues not only irritate the child but can be equally disruptive for the entire family.

Growing children tend to be active and energetic, and burn calories much faster than adults. Therefore, they need more sleep than adults. But what if your kid is affected by a sleep disorder? Keep reading to find out.

Causes Of Sleep Problems in Children:

Disordered sleep behaviour is described as abnormality and irregularity occurrence in sleeping. Here are some reasons that may cause child sleeping problems:

  1. Sleep disturbance in infants may arise due to feeding intolerance, colic pain, stomach ache and irritability.
  2. Older children may have disturbed sleep due to a behaviour pattern that they learn, like for example crying to signal their needs.
  3. Some sleep problems in kids can be harmful or may occur due to medical reasons. A few examples include children sleep problems caused be airway abnormalities, enlarged adenoids, or breathing difficulties caused by gastroesophageal reflux.
  4. Childhood Sleep disorder can be diagnosed by undergoing the overnight test called polysomnography.

[ Read: How Much Sleep Does a Kid Need ]

Types of Sleep Disorders in Children:

There are many different types of sleep disorders noted in children. The most common ones include the following.

  1. Sleepwalking
  2. Night terrors
  3. Snoring
  4. Rhythmic movement disorders
  5. Limit setter sleep disorder
  6. Nightmares
  7. Obstructive sleep apnea
  8. Insufficient sleep syndrome
  9. Sleep onset difficulty

[ Read: Night Sweats In Children ]

Symptoms Of Sleep Disorders In Children:

It is important to correctly identify the symptoms of sleeping problems in children. Some common symptoms of kids with sleeping problems are:

  • Difficulty in falling asleep.
  • Snoring
  • Holding breathe during sleep.
  • Frequently waking up through the night.
  • Sleep walking, nightmares.
  • Sleep tremors.
  • Looking terrified and sweating during the night
  • Choking or coughing at night
  • Breathing noisily
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Difficulty in staying awake during the day
  • Decrease in daytime activities and performance
  • Sleepwalking

Sudden deterioration in performance, fatigue or drowsiness during day time are also indicators of sleeping problems in children.

Can Sleep Disorders Affect Children?

Sleep problems in children are getting more common today. Most people may not really know about it, but sleep disorders can and do affect children too.

  • If a growing child does not get optimum sleep, they can experience negative impacts in the overall quality of their life.
  • It has been found that boys are more likely to be affected by these disorders, and often, sleeping disorders in kids may occur due to an underlying psychological or physiological condition.

Effects of Sleeping Disorders In Children:

It has been found that pediatric sleep disorders tend to decrease the quality of life in general, and are thought to have many negative impacts on a child’s health.

  1. Accidents
  2. Slower reaction time
  3. Problems in performance at school
  4. Moody behaviour
  5. Memory and concentration problems
  6. Learning problems
  7. Injuries
  8. Decreased social performance

Tips to Handle Your Child Sleep Problems:

An unpleasant change in behavior, decline in performance at school or extra- curricular activities, problems in social relationships, etc, are some the ill effects faced by the child suffering from sleep problem. However, once identified, sleep problems can be easily cured by taking simple efforts, measures, and care for the child. With a bit of effort and awareness, sleep disorders in children can be dealt with ease. A regular, consisting sleep schedule, i.e., maintaining the same time for going to bed at night and a time to rise in the morning should be established.

  • Get your child examined by a healthcare provider, especially if your child sleep disturbances tend to interfere with his day to day activities.
  • Understand your child’s sleeping habits- keep track of times when he goes off to sleep easily.
  • Kids should not be given any large meals and food or drink containing caffeine less than 6 hours before their sleeping time.
  • You should make your child relaxed before bed time. That you can accomplish by telling a bed time story, or giving a warm bath.
  • Post-dinner playtime should be made relaxing for the kid as engaging in heavy activities just before bedtime can keep the child awake.
  • The room in which the child sleeps should have a comfortable temperature throughout the night and should be completely dark.
  • The noise levels in the house should be low during your kid’s nap time. Television, music systems and radios should be switched off when your child sleeps.
  • Don’t let your kid get engaged in watching TV or playing video games at least one hour prior to bedtime.
  • As a parent whenever you feel that your kid is tired and sleepy but is still awake, you should immediately put him/her to bed.
  • Try and establish a regular bedtime routine for your child. This pattern will program him to fall asleep more easily and at a particular time.

[ Read: How To Get Child To Sleep In Own Bed? ]

We hope this article provided you valuable advice about sleep disorders in kids. If you have further questions, it is best to contact your doctor or pediatrician.

Did any of the above approaches help you establish a good sleep routine for your child? Do let us know in the comments section below.

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Sadiya Qamar

Sadiya is a writer and editor with a passion for writing about parenthood and children. Her focus areas are health, wellness, and beauty. For MomJunction, she writes on kids’ health and nutrition.  Sadiya believes in doing in-depth research and providing accurate information to help parents with concerns on their children’s growth and development.