Sleep is essential for children’s health, behavior, development and general wellbeing. Unfortunately, up to 50 percent of kids will experience a sleep problem at some point in their childhood. If your child is having a hard time falling or staying asleep, they may be experiencing a sleep disorder that can have negative long-term effects.
What Is a Sleep Disorder?
A sleep disorder is a term that broadly describes dysregulated sleep. They can be caused by blocked airways, low iron levels, neurological disorders or a number of other factors.
Common signs of a sleep disorder in children include daytime fatigue, irritability, inattention, memory problems and behavior issues. Over time, sleep disorders can affect growth, blood sugar levels and the immune system.
Types of Pediatric Sleep Disorders
There are many types of sleep disorders with different root causes. The most common pediatric disorders are listed below.
Around four percent of children have sleep apnea. It typically affects kids between ages two and eight. There are two types:
- Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. It occurs when the soft tissues in the back of the throat block the upper airway, cutting off oxygen for a few seconds at a time.
- Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain stops signaling the child to breathe, sometimes for as long as a full minute. This condition is linked to problems with the central nervous system.
Insomnia describes trouble falling or staying asleep, or waking too early. There are many possible causes, including poor sleeping habits, stress or anxiety. According to the National Sleep Foundation, around 45 percent of adolescents may suffer from insomnia.
Parasomnia covers a set of sleep problems that are all marked by abnormal movements. Common types include:
- Nightmares that cause children to wake from frightening dreams.
- Sleep terrors/night terrors, where a child sits up, screams, shouts or kicks, is unresponsive to voices and has no memory of the event the next day.
- Sleep talking, where a child talks during sleep.
- Sleep walking, where a child walks while asleep or partly awake.
The first step for treating a sleep disorder is to be evaluated by a specialist. To schedule a test to diagnose a sleep disorder for your child, contact the experts at Pinnacle ENT Associates today.