When considering a child's problems with getting a restful night of sleep, we don't usually think of children and sleep disorders. However, many children do suffer from interrupted sleep, and this can lead to all kinds of other issues.
Sleep Disorders Are Common in Children
One thing we have learned is that an interrupted night's sleep, especially if it continues to happen, can lead to behavioral problems in children. If an adult misses a few hours of sleep at night, the result may be fatigue or exhaustion the next day. In children this condition may appear differently, such as being hyperactive or having some sort of attention disorder. Oftentimes, sleep issues in children are misdiagnosed.
A misdiagnosis can mean that children are placed on powerful medications they don't really need. This can serve to make the problem even worse by masking the real issue, which is a lack of quality sleep.
Nightmares Can Disrupt a Child’s Sleep
Nightmares and night terrors in children are fairly common and can interrupt a child's sleep, but usually are not a regular occurrence. Children do remember the details of their nightmares, however, and sometimes nightmares can become a recurring problem. Children usually overcome these issues with time, but nightmares can lead to the child being overtired and anxious.
Snoring In Children and Toddlers
When discussing children and sleep disorders, snoring is not usually considered to be a problem. Snoring, however, is another issue that keeps children awake at night. Snoring in children can be cute and even amusing, but constant snoring can lead to disrupted sleep patterns.
Sleep Apnea In Children
Excessive snoring can also be a result of something called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when the airway is closed off during sleep. If the body is deprived of oxygen long enough, the brain sends signals to awaken, resulting in being jolted from slumber.
The snorer usually falls back to sleep immediately after being awakened, and this can be the frustrating part. Because a person may never remember being awake and think they're getting a full night's rest, sleep apnea can be hard to diagnose, even though the snorer may awaken dozens of times a night. This is especially tough to detect in children, partly because we never suspect this can be a problem in kids.
In adults, sleep apnea can result from poor muscle tone or being overweight, or even the physical structure of the person, such as large tonsils or adenoids. Children can have the same structural issues and often do suffer with large tonsils.
If you suspect your child is suffering from sleep apnea, be sure to look for the symptoms. These often include an inability to gain weight, being tired in the daytime, having trouble concentrating, hyperactivity, and also trouble in school.
Poor quality sleep in children, and sleep disorders in general, are often misdiagnosed or missed altogether. A restful night's sleep is just as important for a child as it is for an adult, and some would say even more so. By being aware of some of the symptoms and problems associated with poor quality sleep, you can take action to prevent any issues from getting out of control.