Sleep Disorders in Children

Sleep is important to everyone, especially children. A good nightís sleep helps a child feel rested, refreshed and full of energy. Without an adequate amount of sleep, a child may be unable to focus and feel tired, irritable, frustrated, impulsive and overly emotional.

Although individual needs may vary, experts say that most children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old need about 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night.

If your child is having difficulty sleeping, it may be a sign of a sleep disorder. To determine if this is the case, there are a number of symptoms to watch for:
Sleep disorders are often not recognized in children and symptoms related to sleep deprivation might be wrongly attributed to over scheduling, hyperactivity or behavior disorders.

Most childhood sleep problems are due to poor or irregular sleep habits or anxiety about going to bed and falling asleep. You arenít doing your child any favors if you give in to her begging to stay up late to watch a TV show. Children thrive on routines and their bodies become physically accustomed to them. When a routine is broken, or a child is overtired or over stimulated, she will probably have more trouble falling asleep.

For many children, bedtime is a time of separation from their parents and possibly their siblings if they have their own room. Some kids will do anything to prevent that separation and the anxiety that accompanies it. Frequent trips to the bathroom and needing a drink of water are often excuses for delaying sleep. However, children are better off if you maintain a good bedtime schedule.

The following tips may help both you and your child get a good nightís rest:
Parents should call their pediatrician or family doctor if night terrors, sleepwalking or nightmares occur several times a night or nightly for weeks at a time. Doctors should also be made aware if your child experiences behavior changes, like falling asleep in school or inability to focus.

Kids who have experienced trauma, witnessed violence or encountered stressful events, may have nightmares or other difficulty sleeping. Kids who have encountered these types of circumstances may benefit from professional counseling.

Fortunately, as children mature, they usually overcome common sleep problems as well as the more serious disorders.

If youíve made every effort to help your child with his sleep problems and have not found a solution, seek the advice of your pediatrician, or contact the Akron Childrenís Hospital Sleep Center at 330-543-8318.

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