How to Get a Handle on Sleep Disorders in Children?
Parents find it such a challenge to discover and deal with sleep disorders in children! Studies suggest that nearly 30% of children experience the symptoms of a sleep disorder at one point in their lives.
The effects can include daytime behavioral issues, poor academic performance, and even anxiety and depression. Fortunately, most of these sleep disorders can be treated.
Parents must recognize their signs so that appropriate and prompt actions can be made, both in terms of medical intervention and lifestyle remedies.
Children will need their parents’ guidance and support during the treatment phase. But first let’s take a look at two important matters in relation to sleep disorders in kids.
These are the number of hours sleep recommended for children and the symptoms that suggest sleep disorders. Then, we can discuss the what, why and how of the common sleep disorders among children.
How Much Sleep Do Children Need?
The answer depends on the age of the child involved. Experts agree on the following general guidelines:
You can maintain a sleep journal for your child if you suspect that he may have a sleeping disorder. You can include useful information including:
You will be able to provide more in-depth information to your child’s pediatrician during the consultations.
General Signs of Sleep Disorders in Children
Each of the sleep disorders in children have its own set of symptoms. But parents and pediatricians can work together to determine the possibility that their child/patient may have a sleep disorder.
Parents should be aware of these common signs of sleep disorders among kids:
Parents are likely to be the most affected because they can witness their children’s disturbing behavior. But the children themselves will not remember. Children can sit up in bed, as well as scream or cry, while in the throes of night terrors.
When you observe a few or several of these signs in your own children, you should consult with the family pediatrician. You should also look out for significant changes in sleeping patterns and/or behavior.
You will be able to see these changes, if any, gradually developing instead of making a sudden appearance. Keep in mind that the following discussions on sleep disorders common in children are general in nature.
You have to visit your family pediatrician for the diagnosis and treatment of your child’s case. You will find that while affected individuals share common symptoms, their treatment plans will be unique to their circumstances.
Sleepwalking, or somnambulism, is characterized by the affected child walking while still asleep. But it isn’t just walking since the behaviors can include:
No matter the action, sleepwalkers rarely remember it! The episode can last from 30 seconds to 30 minutes, and happen within an hour or two after falling asleep. Sleepwalkers are also difficult to wake up although it isn’t recommended in the first place.
What causes sleepwalking? Studies suggest that it may run in families although there are also other causes including:
Sometimes, children who sleepwalk may also have sleep apnea, night terrors, or bedwetting. Your family pediatrician can recommend treatments and/or specialists who can treat these conditions.
Sleepwalking per se isn’t harmful. It is neither a sign of psychological issues nor cause psychological damage so you can rest easy. But you will still want to know how to stop sleepwalking in case it becomes dangerous for your child.
This is the case when your sleepwalking child may fall down the stairs, wander outside the house, or even drive a car.
Emphasis must be made that you can’t stop sleepwalking. You shouldn’t even attempt it because it can only result in embarrassment and anxiety for your child. You may even be worsening the situation when your child becomes more stressed because of it.
Instead, your best course of action is to take the appropriate measures to keep your child out of harm’s way.
Don’t fret because most children will outgrow their sleepwalking habits by their teenage years. Your job as a parent is to reduce the risks of his sleepwalking habits and offer your support. You may discuss it but only to explain the measures adopted for his safety.
Narcolepsy is a neurological condition with the following symptoms:
Other symptoms of narcolepsy also include disturbed sleep during the night, memory loss, and automatic behaviors. These symptoms can develop gradually over several years although there are cases when these suddenly appear.
If you are observant about your child’s sleeping behavior, you will likely see the signs. But if you don’t see them, you shouldn’t blame yourself but instead you can take the appropriate actions.
Your child will need a strong and supportive parent who can be his guide as he struggles with his narcoleptic symptoms. Scientists have yet to determine the exact causes of narcolepsy. But the current theories include:
Studies have shown that the sleep disorder affects boys and girls equally. Even younger children have been observed with its symptoms. Doctors use several diagnostic tools to make a definitive diagnosis of narcolepsy.
In case these diagnostic tools aren’t definitive, your child’s doctor may also recommend genetic and spinal fluid tests. Your family should work with medical professionals in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
Your child will obviously benefit more from an effective treatment plan based on it, thanks to the numerous tests conducted.
Narcolepsy doesn’t have a cure yet. But there are several treatments that can manage the symptoms so that an affected person can enjoy a near-normal life. In case your child was diagnosed with it, your child’s treatment plan will likely include the following approaches:
Your child’s teachers, for example, may have mistaken his excessive daytime sleepiness as a sign of his lack of ability or interest, even his laziness. With the information, your child can work with his teachers about his study load.
Narcolepsy may seem like a scary sleep disorder in your child but it need not be. You can work with your family pediatrician, as well as with your child’s siblings, relatives and teachers, to ensure his safety and well-being.
Insomnia in children is similar to that in adults. Children also have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep during the night, even of waking up too early in the morning.
Younger children will be unable to express their experiences with it so parents have to be vigilant about it, primarily by being aware of the signs. Older children may complain about it on their own so parents can take the proper actions.
There are two types of insomnia based on the duration of the symptoms.
Parents should also take note that sleep-related dependency and bedtime resistance on the part of children are also considered as insomnia. The most common cause is behavioral issues that prevent said children from enjoying normal sleep patterns.
The common symptoms of insomnia in children include:
Your child may have a few or several of these signs of insomnia, especially the first three symptoms. But you shouldn’t jump to conclusions either as these symptoms are also present in other physical and psychological health issues.
You should see your child’s pediatrician about your concerns so that appropriate diagnostic tests can be conducted. What causes insomnia? Scientists have identified the following possible factors:
You have to look at these environmental factors closely because these have an impact on your children’s sleeping habits. Even your relatively healthy child may suffer from sleepless nights because of a saggy mattress, for example.
Remember that insomnia will likely be caused by a set of factors instead of just one factor. Your child’s symptoms may be worsened by a non-conducive sleeping environment aside from his reaction to his ADHD medication.
Your next question will then be, “How to cure insomnia in children?” Each child’s treatment plan will be different because the factors behind his case will be different. But doctors recommend the following general treatment approach to insomnia.
Medications aren’t recommended in children and teens with insomnia unless these are merited by special circumstances. This is because medications may worsen the symptoms, even increase the risk of other illnesses.
Instead, lifestyle remedies and treatment of underlying conditions are highly recommended.
Parents are understandably concerned about sleep disorders in children because of their physical and mental impact. Early diagnosis is crucial in effective treatment so we suggest being aware of your children’s sleeping patterns. Be sure to share this article so that you can make your fellow parents aware, too!