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What Are Sleep Disorders in Children?

Learn about sleep disorders in children from Dr. Kimberly Williams in this Howcast video.


Sleep disorders in children occur in about 30 percent of the population. What we understand that disruptions in sleep, in rapid eye movement sleep and non-REM sleep do cause and manifest different sleep disorders that are functionally impairing for children, sometimes, as they enter school or follow up on their day-to-day activities.

Many of the sleep disorders that are common to children include night terrors, where children suddenly wake up in the middle of the night, or sleepwalking, which is more common in 8 to 12-year-olds, which involves a child who is still sleeping moving about. Sometimes children also have what's called obstructive sleep apnea. This is when a child's breathing throughout the course of the night is disrupted, and it really does cause them to have less of an efficient, restful, peaceful sleep, which manifests in irritability, grumpiness and difficulty functioning during school. Also children sometimes have what's called narcolepsy in which they're awake and functioning just fine but suddenly fall asleep in the middle of an activity.

Sleep disorders in children are, typically, rather mild and easily treatable through behavioral interventions, sometimes medication, and in the case of sleep apnea sometimes surgery to remove the adenoids. Sometimes children have what is called nighttime bed wetting in which they're sleeping so deeply and soundly that they don't wake up to go to the bathroom. Sometimes there's definitely aspects of less developed motor control, also involved in this process. Although, there are more of a variety of sleep disorders in children, these are a few of the most prominent sleep disorders that are seen in children and adolescents.

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