Sleep Disorders in Children – Diagnosis
Sleep disorders in children are a lot more common than we think. A lot of children have medical sleeping disruptions which can range from the seemingly innocent, occasional night terror to something as serious as neurological conditions like narcolepsy. These sleep disorders can affect a child’s daytime activities. There are studies that show that if sleep disorders in children are left untreated, they can have adverse effects later in life, as in poor performance in school and at work; in some cases simple sleep disorders evolve into more serious medical conditions.
A child should get as much as 10 hours of sleep at night, and this has been proven necessary for the child’s developmental phases. If a child does not get that much sleep, it is important to find the root cause of the problem before it turns into something worse. It is important to properly recognize sleep disorders in children as early as possible. The sooner a sleep problem is diagnosed, the sooner the proper cure and treatment can be decided on for the child. As in other medical cases, early detection is key. Symptoms of sleep disorders in children may vary from that what an adult typically experiences. Regardless of this, a good pediatrician and observant parents or guardians should be able to identify and recognize if a child is having sleep problems.
Types of Sleep Disorders in Children
There are several types of sleep disorders in children, and some of the more common ones will be briefly discussed here. Night terrors are one of the more common sleep disorders in children. Usually associated with a child’s emotional issues, night terrors are sudden and partial sleep disruptions in the night. Usual a child would not fully awaken but would cry out in the middle of sleep. Children do not usually remember their night terrors once they’ve woken up. For these cases, it is important to ensure that the child is comfortable – good ventilation, clean sheets – without necessarily waking up the child in the middle of night terror episodes. Extreme cases might need some form of medical intervention.
Another commonplace disorder is sleepwalking. Children have been observed to rise during the night, with eyes open, but not actually seeing. They would around the house or even talk at some instances. The best way to deal with sleepwalking is to take some precautionary steps like putting the kid’s room in the first floor or child-proofing the room to prevent any bumps or other accidents.
Another sleeping disorder observed in children is nighttime bedwetting. Bedwetting has been associated with emotional distress, developmental issues or even as straightforward as bladder problems. This sleep disorder is usually dealt with via training and conditioning the child using tools like alarms to help the child stop bed wetting.
Sleep-onset anxiety has also been experienced by children. At such a young age, there are children that have difficulty sleeping because of unnecessary worries. Usually associated with emotional issues, a child needs to be assured in order to facilitate sleep.
Sleep apnea, while more prevalent among adults, has also been observed among children. Sleep apnea is caused by obstruction in air passages, leading to abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep.
Narcolepsy is one of the more serious cases of sleep disorders in children. It is a rare neurological and genetic condition characterized by excessive sleeping hours, at abnormal sleeping patterns. If a child is suspected to have narcolepsy, it’s best to immediately refer the child to a doctor or sleep specialist for diagnosis and treatment.