It can be difficult to define sleep disorders in children, as they vary
with age, i.e. waking up frequently during the night is
quite normal as
an infant, while it is not at 2 years old. Another reason they can be
difficult to diagnose is because the parents’ concept of what
natural disturbance and what is considered a problem can also vary
up during the night is a common occasional occurrence during
childhood, but 80% of children sleep pretty much through the night from
when they are 6 months old and 90% when they are 1 year old. On average
one out of
three children will continue to wake up frequently and
care from their parents until they are 4 years old.
and sleeping patterns
have a sleeping pattern that is
different from an adult’s. Children of less than 6 months
50% of their sleeping time in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of a
fall asleep through an initial
active REM phase, contrary to adults that normally do not enter this
phase until 90 minutes into a cycle. Since the REM phase is more
when infants sleep, their sleep cycles are much shorter.
6 months and older, a child’s
sleeping pattern is the
same as an adult’s. After an initial slumber
approximately 10-20 minutes the child moves from phase 1, a non-REM
phase, to phases 2 and 3. The child may return to phase 1 and the cycle
one or two cycles with non-REM
sleep, the child will enter the REM sleep phase after 60-90 minutes.
The first third of the night is
ordinarily spent in deep sleep (non-REM) phases. For the last half of
the night a child
will mainly be in phase 2 of sleep and the REM phase.
Infants need the same
amount of sleep during the day as they do at night. Sleeping at night
eventually becomes more natural and turns into a continuous,
undisturbed period of sleep. Most children do not need a nap during the
day from 4 years old. The need for sleep in children decreases
gradually, so young adults have the same need for sleep as adults.
- A group of sleep
disorders most commonly found in children
- The disorder is episodic
and reflects immaturity of the central
nervous system, therefore they are more frequent in children, who will
normally grow out of the condition.
- Often children with this
condition have a family
- Attacks are predictable
in the sleep cycle and characterized by
- Sleep terrors: not to be
nightmares. Sleep terror usually occurs during the first hours
sleep: the non-REM phases. This sleep disorder in children is
characterized by feelings of dread and terror during the night.
- Nocturnal enuresis
Sleep Disorders in Children
months: Restless and disturbed sleep
infant’s relations start to develop and the discovery of new things
matters more and more and this can have a large effect on sleep.
Head-banging and body-rocking are very common in infants. It is
believed to be hereditary, but in most cases benign. In rare cases this
type of sleep behavior may be caused by disease.
waking up during the night in children this age is caused by
sleeping in the bed with parents, breast feeding, normal development,
temper, mother-child relations, anxious parents and/or postnatal
depression in the mother.
years old: Resistance to sleep
Very few parents have never experienced their toddler screaming and
thrashing, completely unwilling to go to bed. This is normal after a
day with new impressions and exciting experiences. Common sleep
disorders in children this age are waking up at night and
years old: Sleep walking and nightmares
general this is the age of sleep disorders in children. It is common
that children have trouble going to sleep, sleep walk, wake up during
the night, resist sleep, bang their head, have nightmares and sleep
terrors, snore, and have trouble breathing.
terrors, which are caused by waking up in the first phase of deep
sleep, and nightmares, are especially common. Up to 4 out of 10
children at this age also sleep walk. Most of
disturbances that children experience at this age will go
away as they get older.
years: Sleep disorders become less frequent
most common sleep disorders in children at this age are trouble
falling asleep, waking up at night, and unwillingness to go to bed.
This does not mean that the sleep disorders from earlier years, such as
sleepwalking and nightmares, cannot continue for some years (or in rare
cases, for life). Bruxism
(grinding the teeth) can also occur in children
from 6-12 years old.
this age, however, the most common sleep issues that cause tiredness
during the day are with the amount and quality of sleep, and not a
sleep disorder as such.
years: Many sleep too little
little sleep in teenagers can have many unfortunate effects such as
decreasing levels of growth hormones, mood swings, lowered ability to
learn, weakened immune system, and issues with their metabolism.
most common reasons for the lack of sleep are bad sleep hygiene,
issues falling asleep, snoring and breathing issues.
specific, adult sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy,
can start to occur in
the teenage years.
conditions can also be responsible for teenagers not getting all
the sleep that their bodies need. These can be social activities, TV,
computer, mobile phones, work, school and many others.
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