How to Manage Sleep Disorders in Children

by cadabamshospital

28 April,2021 | Reading Time: 5 minutes

Sleep disorders in children are more common than many parents may realize. If your child looks fatigued all the time and finds it difficult to sleep properly, they may have some kind of sleep disorder as well. As a parent, it’s important you attend to this problem and ensure they get proper treatment. If not, sleep disorders can lead to many physical and mental health issues, affecting your child’s growth and overall well being.

What are Sleep Disorders?

Sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect the ability of your child to sleep well on a regular basis. Even infants are prone to sleep disorders. Studies have indicated that poor sleep quality in children is linked to a number of other conditions such as academic, behavioral, developmental, social, and medical conditions such as obesity. Not only does it affect the child’s health, but it can also impact family and parents’ or siblings’ sleep. In addition, some studies have also indicated that sleep-disturbed children have more depressive symptoms and anxiety disorders than other children of their age group. 

It's tough for any parent to discover that their child may have a sleep disorder. After all, no parent wants to witness their child struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep during the night. However, recent studies estimate that nearly 30% of children may have a sleep disorder at some point in their lives.

Children's sleep disorder types include: 

  • Insomnia: It can occur at any time, from infancy through adolescence. During insomnia, your children may have difficulty sleeping throughout the night.
  • Sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea is when a child experiences shortness of breath while sleeping. The main cause is a blockage in the airway that restricts the oxygen. There are different types of sleep apnea. 
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS): It is a type of sleep movement disorder when a child has the tendency to move the legs while he or she falls to sleep.
  • Narcolepsy: It is an absurd sleep condition characterized by extreme sleepiness during the day and not at night.
  • Parasomnia: A parasomnia is a class of sleep disorders that causes abnormal physical events or experiences during sleep. They usually include sleepwalking, night terrors, nightmares, rhythmic movement disorders such as head banging or rocking.

While sleep disorders can come with varying degrees of severity, the majority of them can be treated. What's important is that parents recognize the signs of sleep disorders so that they can get their child treated for the underlying causes, rather than treating the symptoms alone.

One of the most important keys in understanding how to identify sleep troubles in children is to have a good idea of how much sleep they should be getting for their age.

S.No Years Sleeping hours
1 0-4 months old Newborns sleep approximately 16-17 hours a day
2 4 months-1 year Babies of this age still require between 14-15 hours of sleep everyday
3 1-3 years Most toddlers need about 12-14 hours of sleep
4 3-6 years Approximately 11-12 hours of sleep
5 7-12 years Children of these age groups tend to need about 10-12
6 13-18 years Teens of this age require about 8-10 hours of sleep

This may vary a bit from child to child depending on the sleeping environment and physical health condition. But if there are any major changes for a significantly longer period then it's time to act on it. Sleep disorders in children can lead not only to tired and cranky children, but to also all kinds of behavioral problems at home, in school, and in their social lives as well.

What Are The Causes Of Sleep Disorders In Children?

Sleep disorders are a common problem among children who have just started with schooling. Studies have shown that sleep issues in children are linked to poor grades in subjects such as math, science. They occur along with behavioral difficulties in children. But with proper diagnostic evaluation, sleep disorders can be significantly managed. 

There could be numerous reasons for the sleep disorders in children, which could range From something as small as them not getting the right environment to sleep in to them experiencing other mental health issues like depression that are resulting in sleep problems. Approach an expert and they can do a thorough diagnosis for sleep disorders, subsequently identifying the underlying causes of the disorder and suggesting a proper treatment procedure to manage sleep problems in children.

Recognizing Early Signs of Sleeping Disorders in Children

Being a parent, it is important for you to learn about the signs that indicate changes in the sleeping patterns of your child, which include:

  • Snoring
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Problems with sleeping through the night
  • Trouble staying awake during the day
  • Decreasing daytime performance
  • Unusual events during sleep such as walking or nightmares
  • Teeth grinding
  • Bedwetting
  • Restless sleep
  • Breathing issues during sleep
  • Trouble waking up in the morning

Tips for improving your child’s sleep

The sleep need changes as the child grows. A child needs to have a consistent bedtime routine for quality sleep. Lifestyle changes can certainly bring positive changes in helping your child get enough sleep. Whatever measure you choose, make sure that you do opt for a consistent routine to let their mind and the body adjust to the new routine. 

  • Scheduled bedtime: Establish a regular time for bed each night and do it consistently. Similarly, the waking time should not differ from weekday to weekend by more than one to one and a half hours.
  • Activity before bedtime: Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading a bedtime story. Make after-dinner playtime a relaxing time as too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake.
  • Eating habits before sleep: Do not give children any food or drinks with caffeine less than six hours before bedtime. Giving children large meals close to bedtime can make them uneasy to feel sleepy.
  • Environment matters too: Make sure the temperature in the bedroom is comfortable and that the bedroom is dark. Make sure the noise level in the house is low. There should be no television, computer, mobile phone, radio, or music playing while the child is going to sleep. TV and video games should be turned off at least one hour prior to bedtime.

Little yet important changes in their routine can really help with sleep issues if any. But if your child is facing some serious issues related to sleep, you should make an appointment with a doctor. You can also call us at +919741476476 for help from our professionals. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How do I know if my child has a sleeping disorder?

Ans: If your child is facing problems with sleeping throughout the night, staying awake during the day, lacking interest, motivation, and attention for everyday tasks, falling asleep at school or home during homework, and showing a decline in academic records, it is time you should see a doctor. 

Q2: Does my child need treatment if he is not able to sleep well at night?

Ans: Most of the time sleeping disorders can be corrected or addressed with lifestyle changes. But if a kid of yours is having really tough sleep problems, he or she might need medical support. That could mean talking to a counselor or psychologist about the stress or sadness the kid is feeling.

Q3: Why is my child not sleeping well?

Ans: Possibly there could be a large number of reasons why your child is not able to sleep at night. Sleep issues are common in children who have just begun going to school. They are also linked to poor grades in subjects such as math and science.

Q4: What causes parasomnia in children?

Ans: Parasomnias may be genetic. Parasomnia in children can be the result of a brain disorder or caused by other sleep disorders, including sleep apnea or certain medications.

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