Sleep disorder in children
Sleep disorder in children

Sleep disorder in children

Most parents would agree that getting a good night’s sleep is essential for both their own health and well-being, as well as for that their children. Unfortunately, many kids suffer from sleep disorders, which can have a negative impact on their development, school performance, and overall quality of life. In this blog post, we will discuss the most common types of sleep disorders in children, as well as the signs and symptoms that parents should look out for. We will also provide some tips on how to help your child get a good night’s sleep.

How children sleep

sleep terrors

Because most parents are unaware of the amount of sleep their kids require or what typical sleep looks like depending on the child’s age, many don’t know. Because infants are still growing, their sleeping pattern is designed to encourage that development.

Infants sleep a total of 16 to 17 hours each day from birth until they are 3 months old, at which time they begin sleeping through the night. However, this varies considerably by a person.

Beyond the first birthday

Toddlers take one longer nap each day rather than two shorter ones, which is typical. Many youngsters begin to wean themselves off of their naps by the preschool years.

0–3 months

Sleep is critical for a child’s growth and development. Food, though, and interacting with caregivers are also required. As a result, new babes wake up to eat, observe your face or the activity around them, and then fall asleep again.

3–12 months

By the age of six months, most babies will have mastered going to sleep and staying awake for longer periods during the day. As newborns approach their first birthday, they are expected to sleep more regularly at night and take one or two daytime naps.

Why is sleep important for children?

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Sleep has a significant role in the growth of children’s brains. Sleep research shows that it influences attention and alertness, cognitive performance, mood, resilience, vocabulary acquisition, and learning and memory. Sleep also seems to have an impact on growth, particularly during early infancy. For toddlers with poor sleep habits or sleeping problems in particular circumstances, napping appears to be important for memory consolidation, executive attention, and motor skill development.

Signs of sleep disorders in children

There are a few key signs that parents should look out for when it comes to sleep disorders in their children. In general, if your child is having difficulty sleeping at night or during the day, exhibiting changed behavior or moods, or has problems paying attention in school, they may have a sleep disorder. Additionally, here are some specific symptoms to be aware of:

Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep throughout the night

Daytime drowsiness: Falling asleep during normal activities such as watching TV or reading

Snoring: A common sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) – An uncontrollable urge to move one’s legs due to an uncomfortable feeling; can also cause insomnia

Teeth grinding: A sign of sleep bruxism

Night terrors: Episodes of intense fear and screaming that occur during deep sleep, often causing the child to be inconsolable; usually lasts a few minutes but can seem like hours to the parents

Bedwetting: Occurs when a child has not yet gained control over their bladder at night; can be caused by many factors such as drinking fluids before bedtime, obesity, stress, and sleep disorders

What happens when kids don’t get enough sleep?

sleep disturbances

If your child is not getting enough sleep, it can have a significant impact on their overall health and well-being. In addition to the problems listed above, here are some other common side effects of poor sleep in children:

  • Poor school performance
  • Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased risk for obesity and type II diabetes
  • Impaired judgment and coordination
  • Heightened stress levels and anxiety disorders
  • Increased risk for car accidents

Disruptions to sleep

sleep schedule

Also lead to long-term health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Sleep Talking and sleepwalking

Sleep talking, which is a type of parasomnia, is quite common. Sleep talking seems to happen more often during light sleep, suggesting that good sleeping habits might help prevent them. While it alone is harmless, sleep talking can disrupt others in the bedroom if left unchecked. It’s sometimes linked to other kinds of sleep problems, such as nightmares and sleepwalking.

According to studies, one-third of youngsters will sleepwalk before the age of 13, with the most occurrences in pre-adolescence. Sleepwalkers are just as unaware of their surroundings as sleep talkers and seldom have any recollection of what they’ve done afterward. Furthermore, the sleeping walk can be quite dangerous depending on the individual’s actions. It is recommended that you safe-proof your child’s bedroom and install an alarm if he or she sleepwalks. It has been shown that awakening someone 45 minutes before their normal sleepwalking episode is useful.

Sleep apnea

It’s typical for children to snore from time to time. Swelling tonsils or adenoids, allergies, obesity, secondhand smoke, or other factors might all cause snoring in kids. However, if your child is snoring excessively or has periods of stopped breathing followed by gasps, he or she could have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. Children with this condition frequently wake up several times throughout the night, and they are generally unaware that something is wrong. When you notice your child displaying the classic symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as daytime drowsiness, difficulty focusing, and hyperactivity, it’s possible that something is wrong. Snoring and sleep apnea can both have detrimental effects on your child’s health and cause disruptions for other family members. Consult your doctor about ways to minimize symptoms.

Restless leg syndrome

child falls asleep

Children with restless legs syndrome have an unquenchable desire to move their legs. It’s difficult to identify restless legs syndrome in children because they appear to fidget or have growing pains. Treatment of nighttime restless leg syndrome in youngsters entails learning good sleep hygiene and stretching before going to bed. Iron supplements have been found helpful in treating adults, although studies are being conducted into the safety and effectiveness of iron supplements for children.

If you believe your child is having one of these sleep problems, keep a sleep diary and talk to your pediatrician. The first line of defense against many of these diseases is developing good sleep hygiene habits and getting rid of any other barriers to good sleep.

Night terrors

Toddlers are particularly prone to frightening dreams because they have a harder time telling what is real and what isn’t. Toddlers frequently wake up from frightful dreams, which generally occur during REM sleep. If this happens, offer your kids comfort by telling them it’s all right and putting them back to sleep carefully.

Sleep terrors, also known as night terrors, are parasomnia that occurs in one-third of children during non-REM sleep at around 3:00 a.m. Your kid may scream and spring up abruptly during a night terror, but they won’t usually wake up or recall the incident in the morning. The greatest thing you can do is make sure your child is safe; if possible, keep them in bed throughout the night. There’s no need to wake them up if your child has occasional night terrors; nevertheless, if they become excessively frequent or if they’re causing daytime tiredness, it’s worth informing your doctor.

Tips for improving your child’s sleep

behavioral insomnia

Sleep requirements change as your child grows older, but a consistent bedtime routine is beneficial for ensuring that your kid gets enough rest, according to studies. Whatever activities you choose, try to repeat them in the same order every day so that your youngster knows what to anticipate.

The ideal moment to put your child to sleep is when they’re drowsy, not after they’ve fallen asleep. This teaches them how to fall asleep on their own at night. If preschoolers wake up in the middle of the night, walk them back to their crib. It’s safer not to let infants sleep in your bed because co-sleeping raises the danger of SIDS.

Sleep hygiene tips for kids

Bedtime routines also impact sleep. You can help your children achieve a restful night’s sleep by following these simple sleep hygiene standards:

  • Avoiding caffeine, big meals, and sweet snacks before bedtime, if necessary, are all advised.
  • To keep the bedroom peaceful, use a white noise generator to drown out noises from outside.
  • Organizing a healthy routine that includes periods of rest and play
  • Even during the day, make the bedroom and especially the mattress a no-screen zone by covering it with blinds.
  • Providing a nutritious diet
  • Setting the thermostat to a slightly cooler setting
  • If your kid is afraid of the dark, use dark drapes to shut out light or a nightlight.
  • Establishing a regular bedtime routine is important.

It’s critical to keep your youngster active, but don’t go down the route of pushing them so they’ll sleep better at night. More often than not, this will cause them to be overtired and make it more difficult to fall asleep. Learn how to recognize the unique state of hyper that indicates your toddler is exhausted, allowing you to put them in bed before things get out of hand.

It’s easier said than done to establish a consistent bedtime ritual. Bedtime may be more complicated for two-parent households or siblings who share a room. If you’re having trouble getting your kids to go to sleep, check out the National Sleep Foundation’s list of other sleep techniques.

Frequently asked questions

How do I know if my child has a sleep disorder?

If your child has difficulty falling asleep, frequently wakes up during the night, or is excessively tired during the day, they may have a sleep disorder. You should speak with your pediatrician if you’re concerned.

What can I do to get my kids to sleep through the night?

There’s no one answer that will work for all children. However, following a bedtime routine, keeping screens out of the bedroom, and establishing healthy habits such as avoiding caffeine before bedtime are often helpful.

How can I tell if my toddler is overtired?

One way to determine if your toddler is overtired is by looking for signs of hyperactivity; this includes being overly active and having trouble calming down. If your toddler is difficult to soothe and you’ve ruled out other potential causes such as hunger or illness, they may be overtired.

What should I do if my child has a night terror?

There’s no need to wake your child up if they’re experiencing occasional night terrors; however, if the episodes become more frequent or are causing daytime tiredness, it’s worth informing your doctor. You can help reduce the chances of night terrors by establishing a bedtime routine and keeping screens out of the bedroom.

How can I get my kids to stay in their beds throughout the night?

If possible, keep your children in bed throughout the entire night. If they awaken during the night, try to walk them back to their bed without talking to them or turning on the light. You can also try using a white noise machine to cover any outside noises that may be waking them up.

Conclusion

Getting your kids to sleep through the night can be a challenge, but following some simple tips can make it easier. Establishing a bedtime routine, keeping screens out of the bedroom, and avoiding caffeine before bed is often helpful. If you’re struggling to get your kids to sleep, don’t hesitate to speak with your pediatrician for more advice.

Resources

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpc.13542
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01252.x
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1389945710000596?via%3Dihub
  4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsr.12382
  5. https://publications.aap.org/pediatricsinreview/article-abstract/32/3/91/32847/Diagnosis-and-Management-of-Common-Sleep-Problems?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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