Sleep Disorders in Children Patterns causes and Solutions

If you are a parent of a child suffering from a sleep disorder, you do not look forward to tucking them in each night. You fear that they might start sleepwalking again, or wake up in a beyond frightful state from a night terror. The bad news is that quite a few sleeping orders exist, but the good news is that you are not alone. Additionally, many treatments and solutions have been found to aid you in your fight against them.

Sleepwalking can be a common sleeping disorder among children. Though it seems harmless enough, sleepwalking, also called Somnambulism, can actually be quite dangerous. Despite the popular belief saying otherwise, children should be gently awakened so that they avoid serious injuries. If you let them sleepwalk, they could fall down or possibly even walk out of the house and into traffic.

There are several possible causes of sleepwalking. One is that it can run in the child’s family. Another reason can be explained by an immature central nervous system which is more common in children and are usually, but not always, outgrown by adulthood.

Ways to thwart this sleep disorder are not complicated ones. Try setting a strict bedtime for the child, making sure they get enough sleep each night. Before they go to bed, make sure that they urinate because a full bladder may trigger an episode. Other treatments may include hypnosis, medication such as diazepam or lorazepam, and psychiatric evaluation. Again, one of the most important things to do is to make sure your child does not get hurt if they are prone to sleepwalk. Childproof your home as much as possible.

Bed wetting, also called Sleep Enuresis can be caused by a number of psychiatric disorders, diabetes, urinary tract infection, sleep apnea or epilepsy. Sometimes, however, the child just needs to urinate before bed to avoid this problem. A full physical should be done to rule out medical conditions. Once this is done, behavior modification, alarm devices, and medications can be used to treat the condition.

Sleep Apnea is another sleeping complication that children may experience. In such a case, the airflow at the mouth and nostrils are blocked, often preventing the child to breathe for up to 10 seconds (20 in infants).

Symptoms of this condition include:
– Color change (Infant is pale or bluish)
– Tone change; limpness
– noisy breathing during sleep

Luckily, children can outgrow apnea. If the problem persists, the use of continuous positive airway pressure and weight loss in obese children may be the solution. See your pediatrician for more details.

Where nightmares are a common occurrence while many people sleep, night terrors are a completely different story. They are characterized by the child waking up suddenly within the first hour of sleep, usually screaming or crying, accompanied by autonomic and behavioral manifestations of intense fear. While they do not typically cause any harm to the child, some instances do occur when they kick and punch out of panic. The child frequently experiences a partial or total amnesia pertaining to the night terror. Klonopin, Tofranil, Valium, and St. Johns Wart are often used to treat night terrors, but you should see your pediatrician before doing anything about it.

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is probably the most serious sleeping disorder that happens. As the name entails, the child will inexplicably die during their sleep. Since 1983, the rate of SIDS has fallen by over 50 percent. Unfortunately though, there are still about 2,500 deaths per year in the United States, and thousands more throughout the world (Peterzell). There have been connections made between SIDS and infant sleep apnea, but nothing concrete has been discovered as of yet. Unfortunately, there are no outward symptoms. SIDS usually occurs in infants under 12 months of age. Rare cases occur between 12 and 24 months. The only thing you can do to reduce the risk of your baby becoming victim to this unfortunate disorder is to monitor them closely.

In your child’s infancy, be sure to keep watch for any unusual sleeping patterns. If you notice that they are breathing funny, or not at all for a few seconds, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician.

Works Cited:
Peterzell, Marc. “A Message from the Chairman”. American SIDS Institute. Copyright, SIDS.org 1983-2005. http://www.sids.org/. 4/6/07.