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Does My Child Have a Sleep Disorder?

by | Oct 21, 2022 | Sleep Studies

Is there anything more important than our children? We know everything about them, including their sleeping habits. When their sleep becomes interrupted or they have issues, it’s natural for us to worry about them.

Not every issue is cause for concern, but some are.  Five common sleep disorders show up in children. Today, we’re going to identify those you should be worried about.

Over 50% of children will experience some sort of sleep disorder. These disorders can negatively affect their lives causing them to become sleepy during the day, lack concentration, and have learning difficulties. Worst-case scenarios include car accidents and other disasters caused by drowsiness.

Night Terrors

Night terrors can unsettle your child, and you as a parent. To watch your child being terrorized by a dream that is hard to wake them from can be heartbreaking. Your child may scream, cry, sit up in bed, and even thrash around.

Typically, these night terrors will occur after your child has been asleep for a couple of hours. If you see a pattern of when they occur, gently wake your child before the night terror would usually occur. Do not get them out of bed. Wake them enough to interrupt that cycle. Within a couple of weeks, you should see fewer night terrors. If you’re not able to do that, or if you aren’t seeing the progress you’d like, speak with a sleep doctor.

Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking can also distress you as a parent. When your child sleepwalks, you may worry they will hurt themselves. As with night terrors, sleepwalking typically occurs a couple of hours after your child has fallen asleep.

What can you do to help your child? Usually, children grow out of sleepwalking. The best thing to do is make sure they are safe. Lock your windows and doors, pick up anything they may trip on, and use safety gates if their bedrooms are located upstairs. Children aren’t aware of what they are doing when they are sleepwalking. During waking hours try to help them keep their stress levels low. If you are concerned, talk to a sleep doctor about it. Some medications can even cause sleepwalking. A sleep doctor will guide you in the right direction.

Bedwetting

Bedwetting is something that many children deal with. Typically, they will grow out of it by age seven. It’s usually caused by a lack of bladder control. If your child is still wetting the bed at age seven, set up an appointment with your pediatrician. They may recommend seeing a sleep specialist.

Insomnia

Insomnia is one of the most common types of sleep disorders. It may surprise you to know there are different types of insomnia. The first kind is behavioral insomnia. Children five and under are the ones who are affected most by this type of insomnia. This form of sleep disorder is where it takes the child a long time to fall asleep. It becomes a disorder when it happens often enough to affect the child’s waking hours.

The next type of insomnia is called conditioned insomnia. This happens in older children more and is attributed to anxiety about different things. It can be very upsetting for both the child and the parent.

The third kind is insomnia is due to conditions the child may experience such as travel, illness, or other stressful life events. This is more of situational insomnia.

There are treatments available for these types of insomnia. The best place to start is with a consistent bedtime. This can work wonders for children who struggle with insomnia. If you continue to have issues, a sleep doctor will prescribe the correct treatment for you.

Sleep Apnea

This sleep disorder is definitely a cause for concern. When a person has sleep apnea, they stop breathing while they are sleeping. This happens when the tissue in the back of your throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway. Between 1% and 5% of children experience this type of sleep disorder.

There can be many causes for children to be affected by this disorder, including enlarged tonsils, birth defects, dental conditions, and obesity. Many pediatricians will suggest that a child see a sleep physician to have a sleep study done. It’s important that you have your child checked because obstructive sleep apnea can be dangerous.

One sign of sleep apnea is snoring. If your child snores often, that is a sure sign they need to be tested. Keep in mind that not all snoring is due to sleep apnea, but a sleep study will help in determining the cause.

These are the top five sleep disorders in children. It’s important to note that a night or two of poor sleep doesn’t mean your child has a larger issue. However, if these things persist or if your child shows other warning signs such as lack of concentration, inability to focus, behavioral issues, and falling asleep in the daytime, then you should schedule an appointment with a doctor. We are here for you and your children. Call us today to schedule an appointment.