Each and every living thing needs to get sleep as it is the brain’s primary functions during early development, explained the Sleep Foundation, a 501 non-profit charitable organization founded in 1990. Also known as the sleep-wake cycle, circadian rhythms help light and dark. However, one’s circadian rhythms may take some time to develop, which may lead to irregular sleep schedules among newborns.
Their circadian rhythms start developing at about six weeks. By three to six months, most of the newborns will have a regular sleep cycle. When they reach age two, most of the kids will spend more time sleeping than staying awake. Overall, a child will spend 40% of their time asleep. Sleep is important for kids since it plays a significant role in their physical and mental development.
Sleep Problems In Children and Adolescents At Pediatric Clinics In Korea (2017)
Dong Soon Kim, MD; Cho Long Lee and Young Min Ahn, M.D. of the Clinical and Experimental Pediatrics, an international English-language peer-reviewed monthly journal of medicine, invited 936 children and their parents who visited five primary and one secondary pediatric outpatient clinics to answer a Pediatric Sleep Questionnaire. Of those, only 901 were analyzed for the study, revealing that snoring (31.6%), bruxism (21%), night terror (19%), enuresis (18%), snoring (16.9%), and sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) (15.1%) were the most prevalent sleep disorders.
Other prevalent disorders were sleepwalking (1.6%) and insomnia (1.23%). Between age groups, snoring was prevalent among kids aged two to five years, followed by bruxism, night terror (19%), habitual snoring (18%), SDB (15%), and insomnia (13%). Among six to 12-year-olds, snoring was the most prevalent sleep problems along with bruxism (26%), habitual snoring (21%), SDB (15%), night terror (12%), and insomnia (7%).
Bruxism (29%) and snoring (29%) were present in youths aged 13 to 18 years, with a smaller proportion of this age group experiencing habitual snoring (12%), SDB (12%), and insomnia (6%). On the other hand, night terror was more prevalent than snoring (27% and 24%) among children aged zero to one year. 21% had insomnia and 10% had bruxism. Only 9% experienced habitual snoring whereas none had SDB.
Boys were more likely to snore (35%) than girls (27%). Likewise, habitual snoring was also more prevalent in boys (18%) than in girls (15%). Other sleep problems observed in boys and girls were SDB (16% and 14%, respectively), sleepwalking (2% and 0.1%), night terror (21% and 17%), bruxism (22% and 19%), enuresis (both at 6%), and insomnia (12% and 14%).
12% of children were obese and of this group, 42.6% of patients snored, suggesting that the rate of snoring was higher than non-obese patients (30.4%). Further, 26.9% of obese patients were likely to suffer from SDB than non-obese patients (17%). The authors found that there was a significant difference in the rate of SDB (50% habitual snoring, 17% snoring, and 5% no snoring), night terror (27%, 22%, and 16%), and bruxism (26%, 29%, and 18%).
What Are Some Sleep Disorders/Problems Among Children?
1. Sleep Apnea
This can be terrifying for parents, said April Newton of Healthline, a medical information and health advice website. If your child suffers from sleep apnea, they will stop breathing for periods of 10 seconds or more while asleep.
Most of the time, your little one is oblivious to it. Sleep apnea can cause learning and behavioral issues, including heart problems. Consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor if your child snores loudly, sleeps with their mouth agape, and is excessively drowsy during the day.
2. Restless Leg Syndrome
It was thought to be a sleep problem in adults, but restless leg syndrome can sometimes occur in childhood. If your child tells you that they feel a wiggling sensation or shift positions in bed more often to relieve it, then they may have restless leg syndrome. Some kids suffering from restless leg syndrome are not aware that they are uncomfortable; however, they experience poor sleep due to this syndrome.
3. Night Terrors
Night terrors occur more in kids than in adults. Children who have night terrors cause them to get up from their sleep, appear scared or agitated, and often cry and yell. On some occasions, children who are experiencing night terrors sleepwalk. Night terrors happen during non-REM sleep, which is about 90 minutes after your child goes to sleep. There are no current treatment options for night terrors, but you can minimize the occurrence by helping your child adhere to a sleep schedule and reducing nighttime disturbances.
How Does Sleep Problems Affect Children and Their Families?
This usually means that kids and their families don’t get enough sleep or even a good night’s sleep, said Raising Children, an Australian parenting website. During the day, your child may exhibit behavior problems such as being sleepy or overactive. They may also have poor memory or have difficulty concentrating or understanding instructions. Your child may appear more exhausted during the day or may struggle waking up for school or work. If persistent sleep problems affect your child and your family, it is recommended to seek help from your doctor for professional treatment.
Request your GP to assess your child’s sleep, so you might be referred to a psychologist, a pediatrician, or another health professional who can identify and address persistent sleep problems in kids. There are also cases when your doctor might prescribe a sleep medicine to relieve persistent sleep problems.
How Do I Ensure That My Child Gets Enough Sleep?
If you have a school-aged child, tell them about healthy sleep habits and emphasize the benefits of having a regular and consistent sleep schedule or a bedtime routine. Ensure that their child’s bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet to help them fall asleep.
Keep gadgets out of the bedroom since they can disrupt your child’s sleep schedule or lead to difficulty falling asleep and nightmares. Tell your child to avoid caffeine before bedtime. If you have a younger child, set consistent limits, and make sure that they are effectively communicated and enforced. Encourage them to use a “security object” such as a stuffed toy or a blanket.
Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep. However, sleep can be disrupted due to excess use of gadgets or not having a consistent bedtime routine. Parents should help their kids follow a regular sleep schedule to prevent behavior problems from arising.