Childhood Sleep Disorders
In children, sleep disorders present in a variety of ways—from bed-time resistance to frequently coming into the parent’s bedroom at night. They often present with restlessness, having difficulty falling asleep, or with trouble staying asleep.
Sometimes children snore or pause/gasp in their sleep—a potential sign of sleep apnea. Sleep walking/sleep talking or waking up confused can commonly be seen in children. Bed wetting may extend beyond what parents would normally expect.
A thorough and detailed history will be used to decipher between these sleep disorders. Often patients with a more behavioral sleep problem like a sleep-association (sleeping with a parent) or limit-setting problem can see remedy to the problem promptly after extensive education in clinic and by incorporating behavioral modifications at home usually requiring only one or two visits.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a disorder that presents, as the name suggests, with restless sleep, with or without uncomfortable feelings in your legs and typically a kicking behavior. A simple blood test to measure ferritin levels will help to confirm this diagnosis. Low ferritin (stored iron) levels often times lead to the symptoms just discussed and relief can come by taking supplemental iron.
Often improvement is seen within several weeks. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is suspected the child will sometimes snore and can show respiratory pauses in breathing. A sleep study may be indicated to determine the severity and referral for further evaluation by an ENT doctor may be appropriate. Some children may require intervention with a CPAP machine.
Helping not only children but whole families is our goal. When a child does not sleep well, no one else does either! Once treated, children often show improved behavior and performance in areas beyond sleep quality. Some families have even hugged me saying, “We have our child back and our family too.”
We want to help you get the most out of your relationship with your doctor. It can sometimes be unclear how and when to advocate for yourself. We are happy to answer questions, help you find a specialist, and know which questions to ask learn more