Sometimes in cases where a child is having trouble getting enough rest; the reason could be sleep disorders in children. Problems such as attention disorders, irritability, hyperactivity, behavioural difficulties and a lowered immune system are all forms of sleep disorders and all of these disorders can affect children’s grades in school.
Here are some of the common sleep disorders in children.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. This condition can obstruct the upper airway, during sleep, causing interference with normal breathing. Indications that a child may be suffering from sleep apnea include bedwetting, loud snoring, night terrors, nightmares, heavy breathing, sleeping with mouth open, and excessive drowsiness throughout the day.
A doctor should be consulted immediately if a child is suspected of having obstructive sleep apnea as this can impede a child’s development and it could lead to high blood pressure and heart problems, if left untreated. If a child is found to be suffering from this, a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be the answer. This can be confirmed by carrying out a sleep test known as polysomnography, to determine whether the child is a victim or not.
Another of the sleep disorders in children is sleepwalking. This is when a child may open windows and doors, move objects around and even stray outside. The child may be difficult to wake and unresponsive when spoken to, during periods of sleepwalking. The American Academy of Paediatrics suggest that rather than wake and scare a sleepwalking child, it is advised that they be escorted back to bed, whilst still asleep, rather than disturb them. If a child is prone to sleepwalking, precautions should be taken to ensure that the child sleeps in a safe area and all exterior doors and windows are locked, as a further safeguard. Additionally, ensure that all tools, medicines etc are put safely out of reach to avoid any unnecessary accidents or injury. An alarm on the bedroom door would be an extra asset, alerting parents when the door is opened.
Medical advice should be sought if sleepwalking episodes become more frequent although children usually grow out of this disorder naturally.
Sleep disorders in children can be nightmares and night terrors. These can often be confused, but they are totally different. A child’s imagination can trigger a nightmare and when a child wakes he will be able to remember in detail what the nightmare was about. Night terrors have been known to cause children to scream out as if experiencing something terrifying. A child is generally asleep during this but, when woken, would experience disorientation and not remember the events that caused the terror. Although frightening to witness, as often a child’s eyes may be open and bulging or breathing rapidly and sweating, night terrors are usually harmless but if they continue, then it might be advisable to seek a doctor’s opinion.
By recognizing and responding accordingly to these sleep disorders in children, such as sleep apnea, sleepwalking, night terrors and nightmares; you are removing the problems that could impede their growth and development.