Sleep Disorders

Also known as: sleep disturbance.

What are sleep disorders?

Two out of three children under the age of 10 years have some type of sleep problem. Sleep problems can be divided into two broad groups.

  1. Dyssomnias (behavioral problems with a normal sleep study like difficulty getting to sleep, remaining asleep or excessive sleepiness) characterized by the amount, quality or timing of sleep. There are over 30 recognized kinds of dyssomnia.
  2. Parasomnias (in which a sleep study, polysomnography is abnormal); common examples include sleep apnea, narcolepsy sleepwalking, night terrors, nightmares, night bed wetting and rhythmic movement disorders like head banging or rocking (which may be associated with brain immaturity and outgrown).
Poor sleep quality/quantity can lead to academic, behavioral, developmental and social difficulties, weight issues, and other problems.

What causes sleep disorders?

There are multiple causes of sleep disorders that may require a sleep specialist, or sleep and other studies to identify. Some sleep disorders have a cause that is not possible to identify.

What are the symptoms of sleep disorders?

Normal sleep is different for each age group and symptoms will vary depending on the underlying type of sleep problem.

What are sleep disorder care options?

For significant sleep problems, identifying the type of sleep disorder by a sleep specialist is paramount. Once this has occurred appropriate treatment for the underlying issue can be addressed. Multiple pediatric specialists might be involved and medical and surgical treatments might be utilized.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: January 28, 2021 01:19 PM

Top Warning Signs That Your Child May Have Sleep Apnea

March 16, 2021 – Most people think of obstructive sleep apnea as a condition that impacts adults. Although obstructive sleep apnea is less common in children, it is still a risk that parents should be aware of. Between 1 and 5 percent of children are affected by it, and that it may be underdiagnosed. Dr. Sandeep P. Dave, pediatric otolaryngologist, compiled a list of sleep apnea warning signs for parents to be on the lookout for.

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