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Just like adults, children suffer from sleep disorders. In fact, approximately 69 percent of children 10 and under experience some type of sleep problem, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Children that get enough sleep function better and are less likely to develop behavioral or mood disorders. Irritability, excessive daytime sleepiness, hyperactivity, lack of focus, difficulty concentrating, poor attention span and behavioral problems are examples of symptoms of a potential sleep disorder in children and adolescents. Common sleep disorders in children are insomnia; sleep disordered breathing, restless leg syndrome, nightmares, sleep terrors and bed wetting.
While symptoms of some sleep disorders are obvious to parents, like sleepwalking, it may be difficult to recognize the signs of other sleep disorders. Jodi Mindell, author of ‘Take Charge of Your Child's Sleep', developed an assessment tool for parents using the acronym BEARS:
- Bedtime: Does your child have difficulty going to bed or falling asleep?
- Excessive daytime sleepiness: Is your child difficult to awaken in the morning, sleepy or groggy during the day, or does he/she seem overtired?
- Awakening during the night: Does your child awaken during the night or have trouble falling back to sleep?
- Regularity and duration of sleep: What time does my child go to bed and get up on weekdays or weekends? How much sleep does he or she get? How much does he or she need?
- Snoring: Does your child snore? Loudly? Every night? Does he or she every stop breathing, choke or gasp during sleep?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, your child could have a sleep problem that should be evaluated by a pediatrician or pediatric sleep specialist.
Acquiring a good night's sleep is essential to a child's overall health and growth. Parents are encouraged to implement healthy sleep habits early into their child's daily routine in order to promote a better night's rest.
Source: National Sleep Foundation