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Sleep Disorders in Children | Sleep Apnea in Children

Sleep disorders in children are quite common. It is approximated that around 25% of the entire population suffers from at least one sleeping disorder. As a parent you may be wondering about the different disorders your child may face. In the following paragraphs the various sleep disorders in children will be explained.

Type of Sleep Disorders in Children:

Sleep disorders in children are widely classified under dyssomnias and parasomnias.

Dyssomnias are sleeping disorders that prevent the initiation or maintenance of sleep. Or the disorders that cause excessive sleepiness in children.

Sleep disorders in children can lead to abnormal sleeping issues. A young child sleeping on the stairs due to exhaustion.

Dyssomnias are divided into two classes:

  • Intrinsic Sleep Disorders: These are sleep disorders in children that develop or originate within the body. Intrinsic Sleep Disorders such as: Narcolepsy, Sleep Apnea, Insomnia and Hypersomnia can be found.
  • Extrinsic Sleep Disorders: They are disorders that develop or originate due to causes in the environment. Extrinsic sleep disorders such as: Inadequate sleep hygiene, environmental sleep disorder and adjustment sleep disorder are fairly common.

Parasomnias are sleeping disorders which consist of inappropriate physical movements while sleeping. These conditions do not occur due to abnormalities that govern the sleep wake cycle.

They are widely divided into four classes or categories:

  1. Arousal Disorders: These kinds of sleep disorders in children occur when a specific part of the brain that controls functions such as movement and fear is aroused. Usually the child will not be able to remember the episode when it strikes; he or she will be asleep while going through the episode. Commonly found arousal disorders are: Sleep Walking, Confusion Arousals and Night terrors.
  2. Sleep-Wake Transition Disorder: This type of disorder usually occurs when your child is in the transition from sleep to wakefulness. Common disorders are: Somniloquy or sleep talking, nocturnal cramps on the legs and movement disorders.
  3. Parasomnias which are associated with REM sleep: These sleeping disorders occur when a child is in the REM stage of sleep. Disorders such as Sleep paralysis, nightmares and penile erections are commonly found.
  4. Other Disorders: Any parasomnia which cannot be categorized in the above three classes are placed here. Sleeping conditions which are commonly found are: Sleep Bruxism (Teeth Grinding) and snoring.

Now let us take a look at the most common sleep disorders which most children face.

Sleep Apnea in Children – A Common but Dangerous Disorder

A child who suffers from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea in children is a disorder that causes abnormally low breathing or pauses during breathing. The pause in breath may last for up to a few minutes. Sleep apnea in children is classified into three major groups: Obstructive, Mixed and Central based on the root cause of the apnea.

Sleep apnea will cause your child to feel tired and exhausted during the day, will increase his or hers aggressiveness and make the child moody. This condition is dangerous since in the long run it will cause various other complications such as heart problems and increased blood pressure and in some cases even death!

Additionally sleep apnea in children is usually undiagnosed since the child will have no memory of the episode. The major symptom shown is sleep deprivation in children which may mislead your doctor into diagnosing insomnia. Only if a loved one is present during an attack can it be diagnosed. So be watchful!

If your child suffers from daytime fatigue and tiredness, shows behavioural changes then consider a visit to your paediatrician. Make sure to share all the symptoms which you observe, it will make the diagnosis process simpler.

Sleep Deprivation in Children an Important Symptom!

Most of the sleep disorders in children show one common symptom – sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation in children is thus an important symptom which you must look out for. Sleep deprivation causes various other conditions such as:

  • Lack of focus and concentration
  • Daytime Sleepiness
  • Extreme fatigue and tiredness
  • Behavioural changes

If you notice any of the above symptoms then make sure to stay alert to locate any other symptoms.

Sleep disorders in children if caught early on, can be diagnosed and treated easily. So stay on the lookout and be ever watchful!