3 sleep disorders in children, and how to tackle them

Sleep is a part of life that’s so important for everyone, but when it comes to children, quality sleep is vital to their development and mental and physical wellbeing. According to experts, kids need around 9-13 hours of sleep each night depending on their age. This is an easy enough figure to achieve for some, but for children with a sleep disorder, getting an adequate amount of sleep becomes more tricky. If you think your child may have a sleep disorder and you’re looking for tips on how to help, read our guide to some of the most common sleep disorders in kids, and what you can do.

Sleepwalking

While sleepwalking is a common issue that many children experience, it doesn’t make it any less alarming to see. Parents worry that their child will harm themselves during a sleepwalking episode, by either tripping over an item in their bedroom, banging into a sharp edge, or worse. This is why it’s crucial to child-proof your home if you know your little one has been sleepwalking regularly, ensuring all windows and doors are locked and putting up a gate at the top of the stairs. Sleepwalking can have many causes, such as stress, sleep deprivation or certain medications, so it’s worth trying to monitor their behaviour before bedtime to find out whether there’s any indication of things that could be causing this. If they played video games or watched a stimulating show before sleeping and then experienced sleepwalking that same night, this can help you see what you can alter in their bedtime routine to hopefully reduce episodes.

Bed wetting

Bedwetting is an issue that many kids face, affecting more than 5 million children.  While bedwetting is usually outgrown with age, there are some things you can do to try and stop it from happening. Before taking your child to bed, make sure to encourage them to use the bathroom before sleeping, and reduce intake of fluids a few hours before bedtime. A device which can also be particularly helpful is a moisture alarm, which awakens your child with an alarm as soon as any urine is expelled. This can prompt the child to get up and use the toilet, causing them to gradually start associating the feeling of a full bladder with waking up and going to the bathroom before the alarm goes off.

Night terrors

Whilst having nightmares is an issue in itself that a lot of kids face, night terrors are a much more distinctive sleep disorder. The signs and symptoms that indicate night terrors include your child sitting up suddenly, screaming or shouting and being visibly upset. Night terrors occur during deep non-REM sleep, and cause the sufferer to see things in their room that aren’t really there, such as insects or frightening images. It’s relatively more rare for a child to experience night terrors than most other sleep issues, and there are a few possible causes for why it happens. Children who are over tired, ill, stressed or ingesting too much caffeine might have a higher chance of night terrors. If your child is experiencing this too often, try limiting caffeinated fizzy drinks like coca cola, and ensuring they have a good bedtime routine in place. Rather than watching TV or using technology before bed, encourage your child to spend some time reading – creating their very own reading den that they can relax and unwind in. For this you could use a cabin bed with tent curtains and space underneath to build a cosy sanctuary with cushions, blankets and fairy lights.

Remember to always seek medical advice if your child’s sleep issues before more prevalent. Do you have any tips on reducing the likelihood of these disorders?

2 Responses

  1. Bethan

    There’s lots more information and support available on managing bedwetting on the ERIC website, the Children’s Bowel and Bladder charity https://www.eric.org.uk/how-to-stop-or-manage-bedwetting

    There are several reasons why children wet the bed. Bed alarms are one solution, medication is another possibility depending on the underlying causes. Making sure children drink plenty of water during the day to keep their bladder working properly is important, as is making sure that your child is not constipated. It’s really important for parents to know that bedwetting can be treated from the age of 5 and children should not have to be made to wait to grow out of it.

Leave a Reply