Ways to Tell If Your Child Has a Sleep Disorder

Posted by Tyler Britton on Feb 16, 2019 9:45:00 AM

Ways to tell if your child has a sleep disorder

How Much Sleep Do Children Need?

Children need at least nine hours of sleep, up to about 17 hours for newborns [Baby Center]. A lack of sleep for children can significantly impact children's performance, both in school and in behavior.

For children with existing conditions that affect their learning, sleep problems can be an important factor in preventing healthy learning.

How much sleep your child should be getting depends on how old they are. While every child is different, here is a rough estimate of how much sleep children should be getting based on age:

  • Newbord: 16-17 hours day
  • 1-12 months: 12-16 hours per day
  • 1-2 years: 11-14 hours per day
  • 3-5 years: 10-13 hours per day
  • 6-12 years: 9-12 hours per day
  • 13-18: 8 to 10 hours per day

The above numbers are total sleep hours, including naps.

Signs of Sleep Trouble in Children

Signs of sleep trouble in children can be hard to diagnose because symptoms of sleep deprivation in children overlap with symptoms from many other potential causes. These symptoms include:

  • Behavior problems
  • Mood problems
  • Social difficulties
  • Memory, concentration, and learning problems
  • Slower reaction times
  • Overeating
  • Accidents and injuries

A couple more interesting and important facts about sleep disorders in children:

Common Pediatric Sleep Disorders, Causes, Treatments

List of pediatric sleep disorders

Here is a list of common pediatric sleep disorders:

  • Sleepwalking
  • Night terrors
  • Sleep talking
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Behavioral insomnia in children (BIC)

Causes for Pediatric Sleep Disorders

Sleep talking and night terrors

Some pediatric sleep conditions are perfectly natural, such as sleep talking and sleep terrors/nightmares. Other than possibly being disruptive or very scary for parents/siblings, they normally don't require treatment. If you feel there your child is having chronic night terrors, nightmares, or sleep talking, there may underlying issues that your pediatrician or a sleep specialist can be consulted about.

Sleep walking

sleep walkSleep walking is common in children - talk to you doctor if your child is sleep walking

Sleep walking is also much more common in children than adults. There are concerns with safety for sleep walking children, as they are not aware of their surroundings. Children may wander around their room, your house, and there are plenty of anecdotal stories of sleepwalking children leaving the house. If your child has been sleepwalking, consult with your doctor or a sleep specialist.

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a medical condition that causes your child to stop breathing repeatedly during the night because of physical obstruction in the back of the throat, and is usually accompanied by snoring [see: why do I snore]. This condition has well documented and wide ranging side effects [see: long term side effects of untreated OSA]. Fortunately, OSA is generally treatable and straightforward to diagnose at a sleep center.

Behavioral insomnia in children is a prevalent sleep disorder in children where the child either has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Typically, BIC is often caused by external factors such as:

  • Non-friendly sleep environment (light or noise)
  • Tablets, phones, and other distractions
  • Negative associations with sleep
  • Lack of consistent bed time
  • Lack of consistent bedtime routine
  • Eating habits
  • Medications

BIC can often be treated by addressing t external factors, such as the points listed above. However, more serious cases of BIC may need more formal intervention.

If you have a child in Alaska and you are concerned that they may have a chronic sleep disorder that is interfering with their health, happiness, or performance, please consult with a sleep specialist:

Get a Sleep Medicine Consultation Now

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