Pediatric Sleep Disorders

Pediatric Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are much more common in children than in adults. It is believed that about 30% of children suffer from a sleep disorder at some point during childhood. Lack of sleep and sleep disorders can cause a variety of negative consequences in your child’s life.

In more moderate cases, sleep disorders can cause behavioral issues, in more severe cases, your child’s sleep disorder could be negatively impacting their development and metabolic system.

Seeing a sleep specialist for your child’s sleep disorders can help you treat your child’s sleep disorders and learn specialized techniques for helping your child get healthy sleep. At Emerald Sleep Disorders Center, our sleep specialist, Dr. Dainis Irbe has special interest in diagnosing and treating your child’s pediatric sleep disorder.

What is Healthy Sleep for Children?

Children have different needs than adults when it comes to getting adequate sleep. Depending on where your child is in their developmental process, they will need different amounts of sleep.

  • One to four weeks old: Newborn babies sleep for about 16-17 hours a day. It’s important to remember that newborn babies do not have a day and night sleep schedule yet, so the time in which they sleep and stay awake will vary from day to day. If you are the parent of a newborn, you will need to adjust your sleep schedule to your newborn’s schedule.
  • One to four months old: This age group of babies also requires 16-17 hours of sleep. However, at this age, their light and dark sleep cycles will begin to kick in. One to four month old babies will take about 3 naps a day, and begin to sleep for most of the night. It is important that you begin to establish healthy sleeping habits in your child at this age.
  • One to three years old. Toddlers need around 12 to 14 hours of sleep, but usually fail to sleep that much, due to parents and older children in the house with busy schedules. Toddlers should get about three naps a day, but usually only get one nap, missing their early evening or morning naps.
  • Three to six years old. At this age, children should get about 11 to 12 hours of sleep. Some children during this age group might also need a short nap in the morning.
  • Seven to twelve years old. In this age group, children need about 10 to 12 hours of sleep, but typically get about 9 to 10 hours.
  • Thirteen to eighteen years old. Teenagers need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep, but due to demands from school work, after school activities, and more, they rarely get this much sleep. Instead, most teenagers report that they get about 6 to 8 hours of sleep.

Cause of Pediatric Sleep Disorders

While the exact cause of your child’s sleep disorder will depend on the type of disorder and symptoms, a lot of the time pediatric sleep disorders are genetic.

Most pediatric sleep disorders are developmental, like sleepwalking and night terrors in older children. However, bedwetting, restless legs, and sleep apnea tend to be genetic sleeps disorders. Insomnia is another common sleep disorder in children that is usually caused by external factors, like caffeine, diet, or exercise.

Diagnosing Pediatric Sleep Disorders

In order to diagnose your child’s sleep disorder, we will need to run a series of tests and assessments. We will also ask you a variety of questions about your children’s symptoms. Pay attention to notice if your child is suffering from any of the following sleep disorder symptoms:

  • Excessive snoring
  • Loud gasps for air or breath holding when sleeping
  • Bedwetting in children over the age of 6
  • Awaking multiple times throughout the night
  • Trouble falling and staying asleep
  • Hyperactivity at night
  • Strange behaviors or movements while sleeping
  • Decreased attention and performance at school
  • Frequent sleepwalking
  • Night terrors
  • Head banging
  • Episodes of paralysis when falling asleep and waking up

Unlike adults, children have a harder time dealing with the negative side effects of insufficient sleep. Sleep deprivation in children can lead to a variety of disciplinary issues, like anxiety, irritability, depression, apathy, overeating, poor attention span, memory deficiencies, and an increased risk of getting in accidents and injuries.

When diagnosing your child’s sleep disorder, we also might recommend a sleep study to test for obstructive sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or other sleep disorders.

Types of Pediatric Sleep Disorders

Children experience similar sleep disorders as adults. The most common sleep disorders in children include:

  • Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea in children is similar to that in adults with symptoms of snoring, daytime tiredness, and interrupted sleep.Obstructive sleep apnea occurs in children when soft tissue, like tonsils and adenoids, obstruct the airway during sleep. Snoring and sleep apnea is sometimes common in children with respiratory infections, nasal congestion, deviated septums, or enlarged tonsils.
  • Hypersomnia: Hypersomnia is a sleep disorder in which the patient has a hard time waking from deep sleep, sleeping for about 10 hours a night. Patients with hypersomnia will sleep and still feel fatigued during the day. Hypersomnia is more common in teenagers, and much more common in females than males.
  • Insomnia: Insomnia is a sleep disorder, in which your child has an inability to fall and stay asleep at night. Insomnia in children often leads to behavioral issues, depression, and stress. Children with insomnia often have ADHD symptoms and other aggressive personality traits.
  • Night terrors: Night terrors tend to be more alarming for parents than their children, since children do not remember their dreams afterwards. However, children with night terrors will exhibit aggressive physical behavior and limb movement during their sleep, which can cause physical injury.

  • Nightmares and night time fears: Nightmares and night time fears are one of the biggest causes of sleep deprivation and emotional distress in children. Oftentimes, children will awake from nightmares with emotional distress and feel unable to go back to sleep.
  • Sleep paralysis: Sleep paralysis is a short-term phenomenon that occurs in between states of falling asleep and waking up. During pediatric sleep paralysis, children will feel like they are awake, but will not be able to move their body. Sleep paralysis can be emotionally distressing for children and put stress on the brain and body.
  • Bed wetting: Bedwetting is a common problem in children and only considered a sleep disorder when a child is over the age of five and has bedwetting episodes at least 2 weeks apart. Oftentimes bedwetting is genetic, but it can also be caused by a developmental disorder, lack of bladder control, or emotional disorders. In some cases, children who experience daytime drowsiness and bedwetting could have obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Sleep talking: Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy, is a common sleep disorder in children, in which they will make noises or even give long or loud speeches while asleep. Sleep talking is not typically something to worry about as far as sleep disruption goes, unless it is disrupting family sleep quality.
  • Sleepwalking: Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, occurs when children get up to walk around while asleep. During sleepwalking episodes, children’s eye will usually be open, but they will not be able to focus on people or objects. Sleepwalking can be dangerous, causing the sleepwalker to run into objects. Typically, somnambulism occurs in children between the ages of 4 and 15.
  • Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS): DSPS occurs when a child or teenage wakes up about two hours past their bedtime while unable to fall asleep. Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome affects about 7% of teens and can cause a variety of negative consequences. Lack of sleep from DSPS can cloud judgement, cause daytime sleepiness, and even negative affect organization skills.

Treating Pediatric Sleep Disorders

At Emerald Sleep Disorders Center, we will treat your child’s sleep disorders through a variety of specialized techniques. Once we diagnose your child’s sleep disorder, we will make recommendations based on the severity and type of disorder.

Oftentimes, you will be able to treat your child’s disorder with counseling from our sleep specialist by changing routines and more parental guidance. In more complex cases, we might recommend medication, or even surgery for children with obstructive sleep apnea and enlarged tonsils. If your child is dealing with a fear of the dark or nighttime fears, we can offer specialized techniques to ease your child’s anxiety to help them fall and stay asleep at night.

Choose Emerald Sleep Disorders Center for Your Child

As we mentioned earlier, children have different needs for sleep than adults, meaning they also require specialized treatments. The sleep specialists at Emerald Sleep Disorders Center are experienced in treating pediatric sleep disorders. Get your child’s sleep disorder under control today, call Emerald Sleep Disorders Center at 541-683-3325.