The thought that a child could be suffering from a sleep disorder can be a little heartbreaking for some parents. After all, no mother wants to see her kid always tired, and no father wants his child to struggle to fall and stay asleep during the night. Nevertheless, sleep disorders do affect children(more than 2 million of them, according to recent research), and addressing the problem, possibly with a sleep study, can get them the relief they deserve.
If you and your pediatrician are concerned that a something is chronically interfering with your child’s sleep, an overnight sleep study might be helpful in diagnosing the problem. Here are six signs that might indicate that your kid would benefit from a sleep study:
1. Extreme daytime sleepiness
We all experience our overly tired days. Usually, they can be prevented with a good night’s sleep. However, if your children are seemingly getting the hours of sleep they require (at least 10 for tweens, 11-13 for preschoolers), yet they are consistently feeling extreme daytime sleepiness (EDS), something might be interfering with their sleep patterns. A sleep study might be the best course of action to pinpoint what exactly is causing the EDS.
Kids are not exempt from the anxieties, the overstimulation, or the late soda that can keep them from falling asleep. Occasional insomnia is normal, but if you child is finding you after bedtime and declaring “Mom, I can’t sleep!” night after night, week after week, something clinical may be occurring that could eventually require a sleep study.
An estimated 1 in 10 children snore. At a young age, snoring doesn’t present the health risks that it does in adults, but it still could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). And OSA does disrupt sleep patterns enough to cause EDS even if the child never fully awakens. If your child snores and is often drowsy during the day, contact your pediatrician. The solution might be removing the child’s tonsils, but if not, a sleep study can better identify if your child has OSA.
4. Night terrors/nightmares
Nightmares are scary for children because at their age, the bad dreams can seem so real. Night terrors are clinically different—kids don’t fully awaken but still scream and panic in fear. Both nightmares and night terrors are a normal, occasional part of childhood, and yes, they do disrupt sleep (did you ever not want to fall back asleep after a nasty nightmare when you were a kid?). However, if these night events are happening repeatedly (several times a week), a sleep study might better identify why and suggest a course of action. No child should be afraid to fall asleep every night of the week.
Nearly 1 in 3 Americans will sleepwalk at some point in their lives, and children will more commonly sleepwalk than adults. Mostly, kids’ sleepwalking is harmless, but if it occurring frequently and the child has a penchant for trying to go outside or place himself in an otherwise dangerous situation (for example, he’s turning on appliances in his sleep), addressing the problem is essential for safety’s sake.
Bedwetting in older kids is not unusual and not a cause for a sleep study. However, bedwetting can be a sign of OSA, so if it is accompanied by snoring and EDS, addressing the apnea may also help keep your child’s bed dry.
What occasional or chronic sleep problems do your children experience?