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Sleep disorders in children

Sleep disorders are actually quite common in children with about 15% to 20% suffering from some type of a sleep disorder. And actually it is quite unfortunate that numerous physicians / doctors whom the family visits regularly do not even enquire about sleep disorders and therefore these issues remain unsolved and possibly complicate.

That is actually a bigger problem than seen at the first glance. Young children spend actually somewhere in the region of 50% of their day sleeping and this is necessary for their correct development as their bodies grow and mature.

There are however clinics focused just on helping children with sleep disorders so it is best to go to these experts rather than a generalist.

Children can suffer from a multitude of sleep disorders. These can be:

  • Bedtime struggles
  • Awakenings at night
  • Sleep walking
  • Sleep terrors
  • Snoring (yes children do snore)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Wetting the bed
  • Narcolepsy
  • Movement disorders
  • Disorders in the circadian rhythm of the child
  • Nocturnal seizures

All of the above are quite often encountered by clinics and doctors who are treating children with sleep disorders, so this is not a list of some rare events.

Sleep disorders in children: 2 things to prepare

The first important step to take is to start recording the sleep patterns of your child. This is extremely important as it can give the doctor quite some insight into what’s going on. There are a large variety of sleep disorders and a part of them requires further testing in order to be discovered or confirmed and another part of them can easily be diagnosed just by the doctor speaking with the family and listening to the recorded sleep history. So do not skip this step!

Next it is important to communicate to the doctors if your child has any special needs or if there are some methods that you employ to calm the child down or alleviate the situation in general. This information is quite important in order to make your child as comfortable as possible when he or she is in the hands of the doctors.

Sleep disorders in children: going for testing

When your children suffer from sleep disorders and it is decided that further testing is required then know that the child will not be alone, you are more than welcome to stay with the child in the same room where the child will be monitored, so do not be afraid to ask questions to the doctors and make enquiries about this.

It is also quite important to take into consideration the feelings of your child. They can have all kinds of questions in their mind concerning this:

  • Is this something he or she will be uncomfortable with?
  • Is this something which will hurt?
  • Is this something which will make the parents upset?
  • What is going to happen to me?

So please do address all such questions with your child in order to make them as calm and as little stressed as possible.

On the night of the testing do make sure the youngster has whatever favorite toy with them and any other object which makes them comfortable in their new surroundings. This could be a stuffed animal, a pillow, a scarf, a hat, etc.

It is nice to communicate to the child that the testing does not hurt at all. There is no harm in repeating this if you feel there is still some anxiety.

The test usually takes about 8 hours in order to make certain enough data is collected through whatever amount of sleep the child is able to get.

Sleep disorders in children: important knowledge

Probably the most important part of the diagnosis for the child is to find out what exactly they have as a sleep disorder and why they feel sleepy and tired so much during the day. Once the knowledge is known then you can take action against it, so the knowledge is extremely important to discover.

Once the disorders are treated the children become more pleasant to be around with, they are happier themselves and the life improves both for the parents as well as the children.