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Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Children

Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Children Overview

It is very common for children to have problems sleeping. In fact, researchers estimate that between one-quarter and one-half of all 1-5 year olds develop some form of sleep problem. These problems are most commonly described as dyssomnias, related to "bedtime resistance," "delayed sleep onset," or "night walking." These are basically disorders that can be characterized by a disturbance in the amount, quality, or timing of sleep. These problems are usually transient and resolve; however, it is well established that if symptoms persist, they can develop into a problem which may require an intervention to reverse the trends. It is best to divide sleep disorders into those that are physiologically based, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), narcolepsy, and restless legs syndrome (RLS), and those that are behaviorally based.

Last Reviewed 11/17/2017
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Signs of Sleep Problems in Children

Children and adolescents need adequate sleep. lack of sleep can have negative effects on children's performance in school, during extracurricular activities, and in social relationships.

A lack of sleep may cause:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Behavior problems
  • Mood problems
  • Memory, concentration, and learning problems
  • Performance problems
  • Slower reaction times

Signs of Sleep Disorders in Children

Talk to your pediatrician if your child exhibits any of the following signs of a sleep disorder:

  • Snoring
  • Breathing pauses during sleep
  • Problems with sleeping through the night
  • Difficulty staying awake during the day
  • Unexplained decrease in daytime performance
  • Unusual events during sleep
  • Teeth grinding
  • Bedwetting
  • Restless sleep
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning

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