Sleep Disorders and Children

By | July 22, 2016

When you list all the possible sleep disorders children can be prone to, it seems amazing that they find any sleep at all. Some disorders are obviously worse than others are, but all have one common denominator: parent anxiety.

As parents, who hasn’t undergone the trauma of bringing home their new born son or daughter from the hospital and stood over them as they slept? Or waking up in the middle of the night to check that they are still breathing. A healthy baby sleeping perfectly well can sometimes be as nerve wrecking as a problematic one. When problems to children’s sleeping patterns occur, however, more action is needed.

Parents need to learn the symptoms of each particular sleep disorder to learn what the best course of action is. Here follows the main problems your children could face at one time or another:

Nightmares and night terrors

If nightmares can abruptly wake an adult in the middle of the night drenched in sweat and absolutely certain what they have dream is true, what do you imagine a child goes through? Nightmares and their even worse cousin night terrors, are the most common form of interrupting your child’s sleep. Although they are not a serious threat to the health of your children they can sometimes cause other problems like bed-wetting, mood swings, or the child refusing to go to bed when told. Try to resist the temptation of allowing them to sleep in your bed, as this can cause a negative routine that will be very difficult to crack later on.


It can be quite disconcerting (and sometimes downright scary) to see your child sleepwalking. It happens to more children than you would have thought possible but is quite harmless if precautions are taken to ensure the child’s environment is safe. This means picking up their toys before bedtime (or even better teaching them to pick up their toys before bedtime) and locking and bolting all windows and doors. Installing a security gate at the top of the stairs is another good idea.
A child talking in their sleep or sleeping with their eyes open is a pretty strange thing to see but like sleepwalking is completely harmless and usually disappears when the child gets older.


Bruxism is a problem children have with their teeth while they are asleep. They grind and gnash their teeth sometimes very loudly. The sufferer is not usually awoken by it although they could bite the side of their tongue once in a while. Parents are the ones usually kept awake by this disorder and the child may develop dental problems if it continues for an extended period of time. That said, it is just one more disorder in children that they will eventually grow out of.


Perhaps the most common sleep disorder found in children. Many experts believe that answer to bed-wetting is to get the child into the routine of going to the toilet and not allowing them to drink too much before bedtime. Some parents get up in the middle of the night and take the sleeping child to the bathroom (I do), while others opt for the use of diapers. On no account should the child be punished for wetting their bed as this just leads to anxiety and the problem could get worse. If the problem persists then parents should go to see their doctor.

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea can effect people of all ages, including children. The victim actually stops breathing during sleep and as many as fifty times a night. Although it is quite common, for a parent there is nothing more terrifying than seeing this happen to their child. Loud snoring is usually the first sign of sleep apnea. If you suspect your child to be suffering from sleep apnea you are wise to go to the doctor as soon as possible to begin treatment.

Sudden infant death syndrome or cot death

By far the most dangerous sleep related ailment among children. Despite the vast amount of research being done in the United Sates and Europe, very little is known about it. Hundreds of babies die each year from SIDS and is without doubt the number cause for concern among parents today.

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