Three Most Common Sleep Disorders in Children
When one talks about sleep disorders in children, people would most likely attach the idea of little kids wetting their beds and sleepwalking at night. However, pediatric sleep problems may be more than just bedwetting and sleepwalking. The truth is, there are a number of serious sleep disorders that parents should watch out for in their children.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia lists the following sleep disorders in children as the three most common:
Childhood Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This condition normally occurs in children between the ages two to six. Obstructive sleep apnea happens when the child stops breathing while sleeping because of an obstruction or blockage in his or her airway passage. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can cause this blockage. Although the period of breathing cessation during the night is not that long, every child suffering from this condition may not have adequate sleep every night due to the condition’s disturbance.
The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea in children may include the following: snoring, mouth breathing, restlessness in sleep, non-breathing periods, having odd positions while sleeping, poor school grades, bedwetting, recurring infections such as tonsillitis and/or ear infections.
Parents should be alert for these symptoms. The child must be brought to a pediatrician when childhood obstructive sleep apnea is suspected. The treatment for this condition is either through the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device or surgery to treat the underlying illness causing the obstruction.
Parasomnias refer to a variety of behaviors which children exhibit during sleep. These behaviors are not necessarily serious, but their frequency is a great disturbance to the child’s sleeping pattern and therefore may require medical attention.
Parasomnias refer to odd sleep behaviors such as confusional arousals, sleepwalking, and sleep terrors. Confusional arousals happen mostly to infants and toddlers. The child shows episodes of crying and is restless or irritable in bed. The child may seem awake but he/she is actually sleeping.
On the other hand, sleepwalking usually occurs in older children, the one who can already get out of bed and walk. These children may be seen walking from their bed to other parts of the house. Although injuries resulting from this behavior are minimal, parents should prevent any untoward accidents by safeguarding their children.
Lastly, sleep terrors are the most disturbing parasomnias. The child screams or shouts in extreme horror while in sleep. His/her vital signs increase and profuse sweating is noticeable. Sleep terrors are different from nightmares since in the former, the child could not usually recall any vivid dream prior to the episode.
These three sleep disorders in children are not potentially lethal in the sense that they do not have the propensity to cause any mental disease. An underlying disease process causes neither of these conditions as well. Thus, parasomnias need no medical treatment, but parents are encouraged to keep their children protected from danger or injury.
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder manifested by symptoms such as: excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations, automatic behavior, disturbed nighttime sleep, and other related symptoms such as lethargy.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but science believes that it is caused by a malfunction of the part of the brain that controls sleep and wakefulness. This condition must be treated by medication, behavioral therapy, and by adopting certain modifications. The treatment plan should be individualized.
Among the different sleep disorders; these three are the most common which is why enough knowledge regarding these aforementioned sleep disorders in children is necessary for each parent to have. Prevention and proper management of childhood sleep apnea, parasomnias, and narcolepsy are efficient ways to let a child have a normal life.