Getting enough high-quality sleep is critical for a child's overall development and well-being. Sleep disorders in kids can have significant impacts on their mental and physical health that has the potential to cause a devastating ripple effect on their life at school and home. Unfortunately, sleep disorders in children are quickly becoming a major concern.
In this section, we will explore some of the most common sleeping disorders in children. We will also learn about sleep disorder symptoms, potential causes, and some practical tips to help promote healthier sleeping habits for your child.
By gaining knowledge about kids’ sleep disorders, parents or caregivers can help support their child's sleeping patterns, health, and well-being.
Sleeping disorders in children, like childhood insomnia, can be difficult to pinpoint without a professional diagnosis. However, if your child refuses to go to bed and seems to have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at least 3 nights each week, they may be showing signs of childhood insomnia.
Childhood insomnia can affect children in a number of ways. Typical symptoms include irritability, excessive daytime sleepiness, mood swings, memory problems, or hyperactivity, to name a few.
Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a delay in the circadian rhythm, or biological clock, that tends to happen in late childhood and early adolescence. It’s especially common among teenagers. This disorder is marked by a delay in the normal sleep-wake cycle by a couple of hours, which can make it much harder for kids to fall asleep and wake up at their normal bedtime.
So, if you think your pre-teen or teenager is sleeping in more than usual, or having trouble feeling sleepy until hours past their normal bedtime, they may be experiencing delayed sleep phase syndrome. Children with delayed sleep phase syndrome also tend to sleep in later than normal on the weekends.
Hypersomnia is a sleep disorder in children and adults that typically results in excessive daytime sleepiness, unusually long naps, or sleeping for a considerable amount of time – even after getting the recommended amount of sleep at night.
However, hypersomnia can also manifest in response to other disorders such as sleep apnea, epilepsy, and narcolepsy, to name a few. So, if your child shows signs of hypersomnia, it’s important to seek professional help for proper diagnosis and treatment options.
Parasomnia is a common sleep disorder in children that can happen during either REM or non-REM sleep. Sleepwalking, night terrors, and sleep paralysis are just a few examples of some of the more unpleasant symptoms that some children with this sleep disorder may experience.
Children with parasomnia may also display abnormal behaviors, movements, speech, and emotions during these altered sleep-state experiences. These events can sometimes be scary or confusing for both parents and children. However, with the help of your healthcare professional, parasomnia can usually be treated by isolating and managing the underlying causes when possible.
If your child tosses and turns throughout the night, you might be concerned about their sleep quality. Movement disorders are common sleeping disorders among children and can affect their ability to fall asleep naturally or experience restful, deep sleep.
Movement disorders typically include conditions like restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder, which have been known to occur simultaneously. These disorders can cause unpleasant sensations coupled with an overwhelming urge to move the legs, arms, and body to find relief. Symptoms tend to be worse at night and can interfere with your child’s sleep quality and waking life.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious but common sleep disorder where children experience trouble regulating their breathing while sleeping. This condition can interfere with a child’s normal sleep patterns and make it harder to get quality sleep. If your child takes long pauses between breaths, gasps for air, or snores loudly while sleeping – but still feels unrested in the morning – it may be time to speak to a sleep specialist or family physician about sleep apnea.
Sleep and mental health are linked in many ways. Healthy sleep helps regulate behavior, emotions, and stress, especially in children. Children with behavioral or mental health issues – like depression, ADHD, or autism – may experience an elevated likelihood of developing sleep disorders from early childhood to adolescence. Additionally, children prescribed medications for these conditions may also have a higher risk of developing sleep problems.
If you suspect your child may have a sleeping disorder, it’s important to discuss symptoms and treatment options with your doctor. Together, you can explore a range of solutions that may aim to help balance your child's circadian rhythm. This may include setting regular bedtimes, creating environments optimal for sleep, limiting blue-light-emitting devices before bed, or wearing sleep glasses.
Sleep glasses work by blocking stimulating blue-light waves in the hours leading up to bed to help kids feel sleepy at the appropriate time. By filtering blue light waves, sleep glasses protect children’s circadian rhythm to allow the brain to release melatonin naturally at night.
At OcuSleep™, our doctor-created sleep glasses can help manage sleep disorders in kids without the need for supplemental melatonin. Our precision tint orange lenses block the full range of stimulating light to help balance kids' sleep cycles naturally.
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