When thinking about sleep disorders in children, people envision parents who are struggling to get their children to sleep. Adolescents and children need nine hours of sleep minimum. Sleeping problems have a negative impact on children behaviors, their social mingling and performance at school. Lack of sleep gives rise to the following problem:
- Mood swing problems
- Behavioral problems
- Learning, concentration and memory problems
- Performance decline
- Slow body reactions/sluggishness
- Injuries and accidents
Signs of Sleep Disorders in Children
Parents should talk to the pediatrician of their children if they exhibit signs such as the following:
- Pauses in breathing on intervals while sleeping
- Having difficulties staying awake in the day time
- Unexplainable decrease in performance during the day
- Unusual activities while sleeping (for example, sleep walking, sleep talking etc.)
Tips for Helping Sleep Disorders in Children
Establishing and following regular bedtimes, and ensuring that the timings do not vary is highly essential. Similarly, parents should make sure that the waking time of their children does not change more than one hour during weekdays and weekends. If not done so, it would distort the sleep-wake balance completely.. Creating relaxing bedtime routines for children, such as giving them a nice warm bath before bedtime or reading a bedtime story is a good tip to put children to sleep. The bedroom needs to be dark and it should be ensured that the temperature of the room is also comfortable.
It is very important for parents to be able to identify the sleep disorders in children, so as to be able to treat them according to its different types. As sleeping disorders are usually closely related it becomes difficult to figure out the particular disorder that you may be facing. It is better to know the exact type of disorder in order to treat it accordingly, instead of treating it symptomatically. For example, there are three fundamental types of sleep problems, namely; parasomnia, hypersomnia and insomnia, each of which have varying signs and symptoms and need to be treated accordingly.
- Children suffering of chronic illnesses such as asthma, psychiatric disorders and other disabilities are more prone to sleeping problems.
- The development and nature of the sleep disorders must be recognized by the doctors on time, before the condition gets worse
- Parents need to assess whether the activities and environment have adverse effects on sleep patterns.
- Signs and symptoms of sleep disorders must be taken seriously so that they don’t turn out to be secondary diagnosis to underlying conditions like neurodevelopmental disorders.
Sleeplessness Issues in Sleep Disorders in Children
Sleeplessness is a very common sleep problem in most sleep disorders. If the underlying causes are identified, the management of the disorder becomes straightforward. A reason why children have problem of sleeplessness is when they are unable to fall asleep in their beds. Parents should encourage children to sleep in their own beds right from an early age. This helps children fall asleep without the need of parents being present around them. The easiest way of encouraging children to do that is by introducing consistent sleep routines in the first few months of their lives.
Parents often need to change or modify their parental behaviors at some point in their parenting, most especially when putting children to bed. Overtime it has been seen that when parents intervene right in the early age of children, it makes them independent in many things. This also helps improving parent-children interactions. The methods of behavioral modifications in handling sleep disorders in children include two approaches:
- Cessation – When a child cries, parents should go into the room and check what may be the cause. They must make sure though, that they don’t pick up the child or feed him if it’s not needed. If there is nothing wrong, they should leave the room (though still staying alert incase they may need to go back in).
- Constant and regular bedtime routines – Parents should be strict and regular with bedtime routines. Timings should not be delayed above an hour and thirty minutes at most (if for some reason they have to be delayed). If the child is unable to sleep in bed even upon lying down for an hour, the bedtime should be changed to an hour earlier, so that the child has an hour of trying to fall asleep before actually sleeping at the set time.
Pharmacological treatments in sleep disorders in children often help on short-term basis. Not all medications have 100% benefits. Some medications may have negative effects on the sleep apnea sleeping disorder. Some severe sleep problems require behavioral treatments and therapies along with medications. Sometimes, antihistamines are prescribed in sleep disorders for sedation. These cause symptoms like hangover in children that do not have healthy builts.
Sleep disorders in children are in fact, a very predominant and common problem found in the early stages of childhood, and must be battled before they get out of control.