According to research, when children don’t get enough sleep, it may cause problems in their academic, and social life. Children between the ages of 7-10 require, on average, approximately 9 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep can cause problems, so how do you know if it might be something more severe than irregular sleep? Below are five signs that your child may have a sleep disorder.
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Problems with sleep during the night
- Unusual events like nightmares, night terrors or sleepwalking
- Daytime sleepiness
If you notice any of the above in your child, you may want to consult his pediatrician or contact a pediatric sleep apnea doctor.
Here is a list of common sleep disorders in children:
1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
When the airway continually becomes obstructed or blocked, this can lead to OSA. Obstructive Sleep Apnea are episodes where a person stops breathing while sleeping. Snoring is a classic symptom of OSA. There are oral appliances specifically made for children that may help with snoring and OSA. Ask a sleep apnea doctor for sleep apnea treatments for children.
Parasomnias which includes sleep talking (somniloquy), sleepwalking (somnambulism), sleep terrors, nightmares, and very confused arousals affect about 50% of children. These are undesirable events which come with sleep and occur typically during sleep-wake transitions. Some associated features of this condition include confusion, automatic behaviors and the child usually rapidly falls back asleep after the event. Most of the parasomnias occur during the first half period of sleep. Children normally have no recollection of this event. Sleep apnea can also lead to parasomnias.
3. Behavioral Insomnia of Childhood
Children with insomnia either have trouble going to sleep or an inability to stay asleep. The sleep-onset association is when the child has an unwillingness or inability to return to or fall asleep without certain conditions like the parent rocking them to sleep. The limit-setting type happens when parents don’t set the right limits like when they allow the child to sleep next to them when the child doesn’t want to sleep. The best treatment for this type of disorder is prevention. Creating a regular routine will create expectations.
4. Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder
Have you ever noticed how a new born baby sometimes get their days and nights mixed up? Their master circadian clock has been reversed and requires “resetting”. This sometimes happens in older children as well. The master circadian clock controls sleep timing and cycles. The items that help us reset this clock are timed cues like melatonin (which is produced by the body naturally), light, meals, and physical activity.
Light is the most powerful of these. Inappropriate timing of this can alter your circadian rhythm. So light exposure before sleep can suppress melatonin and delay sleep. This disorder also delays wake up timings. Focusing on maintaining regular schedules such as meals and bath time, can help regulate your child’s sleep patterns.
5. Restless Legs Syndrome
This is characterized by an unpleasant sensation in the legs which causes the child to move their legs when settling down for sleep. Listen to your child, some common descriptions include:
- Too much energy in their legs
- Feeling like their legs are tingly or wiggly
- Complaining their feet feel hot or cold
These feeling can worsen and keep the child from falling asleep. Iron deficiency is known to cause this condition.
If you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms in your child, it might be time to take them to a sleep apnea doctor to receive sleep apnea treatments to help them to obtain a better night’s sleep.