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Sleep Disorders In Children: Adults and children require sleep as part of their daily routines. Sleep allows the body to restore its normal processes, promote physical growth, support mental development, and conserve energy. Unfortunately, sleep disturbances affect up to 50% of children, according to a study published in 2014 in the American journal of family medicine. Of these, 4% of cases are formally diagnosed with sleep disorders. The most common consequence of inadequate sleep in adults is excessive daytime sleepiness. However, in children, presentations with excessive daytime sleepiness are less common. Instead, they more often present with irritability, behavioural problems, learning difficulties, motor vehicle crashes in teenagers and poor academic performance.
Moreover, sleep disruptions in children can result in cognitive and emotional challenges, often affecting family dynamics. Therefore, the presentation in children is atypical, and early recognition and management play a pivotal role. Sleep disorders, also known as sleep-wake disorders, are defined by the American Psychiatric Association as issues related to sleep quality, timing, and duration. Dr Suhas HS,
Consultant Pulmonologist, Manipal Hospital Sarjapur, roughly classified into:
Warning signs of sleep disorders in children by Dr Suhas HS:
Dr Suhas HS Sarpangala shares pointers to help a child with sleep disorders
Identifying whether a child is experiencing a sleep disorder or is simply restless can be challenging. However, conversing with them in the morning after a night of poor sleep can help determine this. If your child recalls a nightmare, reassuring them that the images are not authentic is essential. On the other hand, if your child cannot recall incidents such as sleepwalking or night terrors, it may require professional attention. In such cases, talking to a healthcare professional about these events or if your attempts to improve your child's sleep have been ineffective is necessary. It's essential to feel comfortable speaking with a doctor anytime you have concerns about your child's sleep. If your efforts to enhance your child's sleep have not yielded positive results, a doctor can provide valuable guidance.
Specifically, your doctor or a paediatric sleep specialist can:
By working with a medical professional, you can take the necessary steps to improve your child's sleep and overall well-being.
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