Sleep Disorders Affect Children Too

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Sleep Disorders Affect Children Too

Sleep disorders are not only a problem for adults but also for children / Photo by: Chinnapong via Shutterstock


Sleep disorders not only affect adults but children as well. What keeps adult up on sleepless nights and tired during the day also happens to children and teens. According to pediatric sleep expert Sally Ibrahim, MD, sleep disorders can affect the health of the children as well as that of their parents as the primary caregiver.

Sleep is when the body "shuts off" and takes a rest. It is a complex process where even if you are sleeping and unconscious, the body and brain are still active. When you do not get enough sleep, it affects your entire body’s physical, mental, and daily functioning.


What Are Sleep Disorders?

Sleep disorders are conditions that interrupt the normal sleep pattern of a person. There are many sleep disorders that adults and kids experience. Sleep disorders among children are not rare.


This sleep disorder affects children too. The only difference is that the parents are the ones who will first notice that their children have trouble sleeping or staying asleep. Acute insomnia can be caused by illnesses. When insomnia lasts for more than a few months already, it may be chronic.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a circadian rhythm disorder where children become night owls—going to bed late and waking up late. This can sometimes be mistaken as insomnia. When it turns chronic, it can become insomnia.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can also affect children. Just like in adults, there is snoring and pauses in breathing while asleep, and kids can have this too. Check for heavy breathing when your child is sleeping and also check for nasal congestion.

According to Dr. Ibrahim, children with sleep apnea may sometimes wet the bed. They may exhibit ADHD symptoms, such as trouble concentrating, issues on behavior, and poor grades.

If you think that your child has sleep apnea, consult your pediatrician right away to conduct a sleep study. This can give you a baseline data. The first course of action if a child has sleep apnea is to remove the adenoids and tonsils. CPAP is also another option.

Sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that affects the adults and its symptoms are snoring and pause in breathing can also affect kids / Photo by: sbw18 via Shutterstock


Simple Ways to Manage Sleep Disorders

Be firm and set limit on the bedtime. Having a regular bedtime routine is very helpful; try to stick to it as much as you can. While this will be met with resistance, it can give everyone a better sleep.

Sugar and caffeine must be avoided so as to be able to sleep on time. Too much sugar and caffeine can have an extended period of effect, which may cause sleeplessness.

Electronics can keep your brain awake even if you want to sleep. Make sure that the bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. For younger ones, reinforcing good sleep habits can be rewarded.


Therapy for Sleep Disorders

When you desperately want kids to sleep but they can't sleep, medication will not solve the problem. In fact, the use of medications can worsen sleep problems. While there is a time for the proper sleep medication, increased tolerance and avoiding dependence are your goals.

CBT or cognitive-behavioral therapy can improve sleep by changing behavior before sleeping, as well as changing the things that you think before you go to sleep.

Sleep disorders are caused by emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, stress, and the likes. This is why therapy is a good way of treating the actual problem than just addressing the symptoms.

Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the best therapies for a child having a sleep disorder / Photo by: ESB Professional via Shutterstock


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Based on a study at the Harvard Medical School, CBT can treat chronic insomnia better than sleep medicine. CBT is good for insomnia. The length of the therapy will depend on the type of sleep disorder as well as the severity of the sleep disorder.

There are two main components when it comes to CBT. First is the cognitive therapy wherein they can change negative feelings and thoughts. In cognitive therapy, you will be made to recognize and change the beliefs. Behavioral therapy teaches you how to avoid behaviors that might wake you up at night instead of replacement with better sleep habits.

A healthcare provider uses medical history, sleep history, and a physical exam. There is also a sleep study that can be done to determine the severity of the condition.


The treatment for sleep disorder will depend on how long it has been going on.  Some treatments will depend on the type of sleep disorder that you have.

Good sleeping habits together with exercise can be helped by melatonin. There has been research on how melatonin can help with sleep disorders. Melatonin is a safe way of treating sleep disorder. However, the fact remains that there should be more research that can prove melatonin to be safe for children. The study also needs to know the dose based on the type of sleep disorder.