Sleep Disorders in Children – Causes and Correction

The prevalence of sleep disorders in children is very high. Canadian scientists performed a longitudinal study on the sleep of children born between 1997 and 1998 in the province of Quebec. They used questionnaires to study the prevalence of sleep disorders in children aged 2.5 to 6.

The maximum frequency of nocturnal awakenings occurred at age 2.5 years, in 36.3% of the children. Subsequently, sleep disorders decreased, reaching 13.2% at the age of 6 years. The same dynamics were observed with respect to difficulties in falling asleep.

Sleep disturbances were observed not only in children from the age of 2.5 and 3 years, but in many children from birth. Complaints of sleep disorders are the most common complaint of parents who come to see a neurologist.

In children under the age of 1, sleep disturbances are associated with colic in babies and teething. And often it is simply because the child is immature and does not have the correct sleeping rhythm. They often “mix up day and night,” sleep little during the day, or often wake up. And the rhythm of sleep is often different in children. How much should a child sleep at a certain age? The most important thing is that the child sleeps at night.

Causes of sleep disorders

Naturally, the causes and characteristics of sleep disorders in children and adults are different. In adults, sleep disorders are more often associated with chronic diseases of the internal organs and cerebrovascular disease. Psycho-emotional factors are also important. Ancient Oriental treatises associated sleep disturbances in adults with liver and gallbladder diseases, and the Ancients claimed that sleep disturbances were caused by gallbladder malfunction. If a person falls asleep well, but often wakes up at night and has insomnia, they interpreted such a condition as a liver malfunction. It is interesting that in modern medicine there are some confirmations of these facts. For example, it is known that in alcoholism people often develop insomnia (and such people have liver damage up to cirrhosis). A separate problem is snoring while sleeping.

In newborns and children under 3 months of age, sleep disturbances are more often caused by colic. However, other causes are possible: anemia, rickets (in the early stages of rickets, neuroreflex excitability of the child is often noted), etc.

From the age of 5 months (sometimes earlier), sleep disorders may be due to teething. In young children, sleep and wakefulness disorders are observed – they “mix up” day and night (circadian rhythm disorder). In children after the age of 2, sleep disorders may be due to night terrors and nightmares, in addition to somatic diseases. Seemingly similar names, but there is a difference.

With night terrors, children wake up at night with crying, rapid heartbeat, and often in sweat. They are unresponsive to their surroundings when they wake up, and they do not remember anything in the morning. Sometimes children may sit up on the bed, scream loudly, and not let their parents near them at that moment. Such disorders occur during deep sleep, not dream dreams. Night terrors are characterized by the child’s restlessness in his sleep, screaming, but he wakes up and can tell what scary thing he dreamt. Children with nightmares react to their parents and remember the dream. Night terrors are often seen in adults. Only there the person sleeps quietly outwardly, but waking up says that he had a scary dream.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that sleep disorders in children are often due to non-organic etiology, i.e. are not associated with pathological changes in organs and systems. It is important for a child to get a good night’s sleep, and daytime sleep is variable.

Sleep disturbances in children from birth are very common and these disorders decrease with age. Proper functioning of the “biological clock”, including proper sleep cycles, is formed by age 3. After the age of 6, sleep disturbances are very rare. And at the age of adolescence, 14-17 years old, an increase in the frequency of sleep disorders is again noted. This is largely due to psycho-emotional stress and first crushes.

Correcting sleep disorders in children is important. In children after one year of age, you can use preparations based on herbal remedies, as well as homeopathic remedies. How to choose the best sleep aid for kids and whether it is advisable to use drug therapy should be decided by a doctor.