Do you have a young one who you struggle to put to sleep every day? Chances are, they may have a sleeping disorder. Here are some signs to watch out for.
You may or may not know it, but one of the toughest things to find out when you are a parent is that your child has a sleeping disorder. After all, it is only normal that you do not want to see your child struggling to stay awake and falling asleep, and you sometimes want to catch a break by putting them to sleep while you continue with other activities.
However, studies reveal that many children struggle with sleep disorders, as many as 30 percent of them during some point in their life. While the problem may not be to the same degree in all of them, most cases can be treated and dealt with early. What is more important though, is learning the signs you should look out for to know if your child is struggling with it, so that the underlying cause is dealt with, instead of simply the symptoms alone.
One of the methods of finding out if your child has a sleep disorder is knowing the amounts of sleep they should get at their age.
The amounts of sleep your child requires
One to four weeks – almost 16 to 17 hours, with waking time being one to three hours. However, since their bodies do not have a regular sleep cycle, they can wake up at any time of the day or night, so you will need to adjust your own sleep schedule.
One to four months – almost the same amount of hours, though their sleep cycles have started to develop.
Four months to one year – 14 to 15 hours of sleep, but you need to start establishing healthy sleeping patterns at this stage.
One to three years – most need 12 to 14 hours of sleep, though many of them will lose their morning naps and only take one nap daily.
Three to six years – 11 to 12 hours of sleep. They may also need a nap during the day, though this will reduce afterwards.
7 to 12 years – about 10 to 12 hours of sleep.
13 to 18 years – about 8 to 10 hours, though many of them get less due to various demands of activities and schoolwork.
What are the signs of sleep disorders in your child?
The occurrence of EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness)
Children who have trouble with excessive levels of sleepiness during the day also tend to have problems with trying to sleep at night, and this is one of the most common signs to look out for. There are more than a few sleeping disorders that will result in drowsiness during the day, both for children and adults.
However, if it is occasional, it is not an abnormal occurrence to see your child struggle with drowsiness – it becomes a problem when it is a regular occurrence.
When your child gave excess levels of drowsiness on a regular basis during the day, they take many naps that is not supposed to happen for their age, they have problems trying to wake up in the morning, or they have general lack of energy during the day, it may be that they are experiencing EDS. In addition, RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) is also a sign.
Trouble with sleeping
When you hear your child complaining that they cannot sleep or cannot stay asleep, or you find that they are waking up earlier than usual, it could be a sign that they have insomnia.
The causes of this could be numerous – stress levels are high, they could be suffering from a mental disorder, or they feel pain (both physical and emotional). Stress can be due to a variety of circumstances including pressure from their schoolwork, issues with their friends, and changes to regular life patterns and schedules such as moving schools or moving to a new town, or issues within their family.
Increasing incidences of snoring
Snoring by itself is not a harmful thing, because it is just a sound that is due to vibrations in the upper airways. The problem is that the snoring can be due to blockages, where the air is not reaching the lungs properly, and this can result in a sleep disorder.
For children though, it is important to keep in mind that snoring is not always indicative of a sleep disorder like in the case of an adult. It may be due to a respiratory infection, such as a common cold, congestion in the nasal cavity, or other causes such as enlarged tonsils, adenoids, and deviated septum.
It is also important to note that many kids who snore also have OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), a condition that is the result of any of the above reasons for snoring.
When your child is in the REM sleep stage, they may experience nightmares that will force them to wake up, andit makes them feel scared, threatened, and terrified of things, and this makes their ability to go back to sleep very hard.; sometimes, they might get nightmares, especially if they are above three years of age, while these will happen more frequently when they are between 6 to 10 years. The frequency of these nightmares will reduce when they are above ten years old.
If the nightmares occur frequently, they can lead to sleep disorders, leading to other conditions such as EDS, behavioral problems, and anxiety. They can also occur due to PTSD, so it is vital that you examine if your child has gonethrough any traumatic experience.
This is different from nightmares because the child fails to wake up during sleep. This may make them seem less frightening to the child, but it is very scary for the parent.
The child may suddenly sit up in bed, or they start to cry or scream. They also go through increased heart rates, sweating, rapid and shallow breathing, muscle tension, and their eyes might be wide open even if they are still asleep.
It is important to establish if your child has a sleeping disorder, as this will help you know what to do to solve the problem (other than using a puffy mattress for a comfortable sleep experience). The good thing is that these problems can be dealt with and your child can develop a proper sleeping schedule.