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Sleep Disorders in Children

Is your child having trouble sleeping? We all know that restful sleep is necessary to heal and repair the body. But recent health reports suggest that many children in the U.S. are chronically sleep deprived. For instance, in a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll, researchers found that more than two out of every three children ages 10 and under have experienced some type of sleep problem.

There’s a price to pay for sleep problems in children. In a revealing study at Northwestern University Medical Center, scientists followed the sleep patterns of 510 kids between 2 and 5 years old. The study showed that less sleep at night means more behavioral problems during the day.

Other studies have linked poor sleep in children with bad grades in classes such as math, reading, and writing. In addition, some studies show that sleep disturbed children have more depressive symptoms and anxiety disorders.

As with adults, there are all sorts of reasons why children don’t sleep well. Some of those reasons are more serious than others. But if you’ve got a problem sleeper (or two) in your house, there are ways to help everyone, including the parents, get a good night’s sleep and feel alert and productive the next day.

Sleep problems are classified into two major categories. The first is dyssomnias. In children, dyssomnias may include:

  • Sleep-onset difficulties
  • Limit-setting sleep disorder
  • Inadequate sleep hygiene
  • Insufficient sleep syndrome
  • Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

The second class of sleep disorders is parasomnias. Examples of common parasomnias include:

  • Sleepwalking
  • Night terrors
  • Nightmares
  • Rhythmic movement disorders such as head banging or rocking

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