Pediatric Sleep Care in New York and New Jersey
While getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone, it is particularly vital for children. Proper sleep gives kids the energy they need to thrive in school and socialize with friends. When a child experiences a disruption in their sleep, the implications can be serious. In these cases, they must get the help they need to flourish and grow.
Northeast Insomnia and Sleep Medicine serves patients across New York and New Jersey with treatment for sleep (adult and pediatric) and pulmonary disorders. Learn more about what pediatric sleep disorders are and how they are treated.
What Are Pediatric Sleep Disorders?
If a child is consistently having trouble sleeping, this can indicate a pediatric sleep disorder. Several circumstances can disrupt a child’s sleep, such as stress, lifestyle changes, or genetic predispositions. Symptoms of a pediatric sleep disorder include:
- Night terrors
Sleep issues in children can affect their behavior during the day. If a child experiences a decreased quality of life due to tiredness or other significant symptoms, treatment is essential.
Different Pediatric Sleep Disorders
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder among children. It occurs when a child cannot fall asleep or stay asleep. In younger children, insomnia can be caused by bed-time-resistant behaviors or an inconsistent bedtime schedule. There are three types of insomnia, including transient sleep disturbances, behavioral insomnia, and conditioned insomnia.
This is a sleep disorder that affects breathing during sleep. It occurs when the tissues in the throat keep air from escaping while sleeping. The main cause of sleep apnea is obesity, but it can also occur due to enlarged tonsils or certain birth defects.
Symptoms include sleep disturbances or severe snoring. For diagnosis and treatment, children may need to undergo a sleep study. Sleep apnea can be treated with therapy, by wearing a mouth guard, or through tonsil removal if the tonsils are the cause.
Nightmares & Night Terrors
Nightmares and night terrors are types of parasomnias, which are undesired physical symptoms that keep patients from sleeping. Night terrors occur when the child is woken up by a feeling of panic or fear. They typically cannot recall the episode the next morning.
Night terrors happen during the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage of sleep. Nightmares differ from night terrors because they appear during the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage. Nightmares consist of scary or negative dreams, and they can increase during periods of stressful life events.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome can be caused by a genetic predisposition or iron deficiency. It occurs when there is excessive movement in the legs that can disrupt sleep. Patients experience the desire to move their legs because of uncomfortable sensations, such as itching, crawling, aching, or throbbing. When the patient moves, it provides temporary relief from the discomfort.
There is no known cause for restless leg syndrome. Aside from a sleep study to diagnose the condition, sometimes a child may need blood tests to see if there is an underlying cause.
Sleepwalking is a type of parasomnia that causes children to begin walking or do other strange behaviors while sleeping. It is most common in children and some may outgrow the condition.
Sleepwalking occurs during the NREM cycle of sleep, usually within the first couple of hours of falling asleep. It can be brought about through stress, fever, some medications, or certain conditions like sleep-disordered breathing or restless leg syndrome.
Some children may experience night terrors alongside sleepwalking symptoms. However, they will not remember the episode in the morning. If a child frequently experiences episodes of sleepwalking, treatment may be necessary. Sleepwalking can disrupt the quality of the child’s sleep, making daytime activities challenging.
Treatment for Pediatric Sleep Conditions
While sleep studies are sometimes necessary to receive a full, accurate diagnosis, some physicians may suggest certain lifestyle changes to reduce pediatric sleep disorder symptoms. This can include:
- Consistency in the child’s bedtime routine
- Reducing screen time
- Ample exercise
- Decreasing stress
- Creating an ideal sleep environment
In some cases, medications can control symptoms. In others, the child may benefit from therapy or counseling.