Have you ever watched a child sleep? They don't just lie there. They sprawl. Arms and legs akimbo. Perfectly relaxed. Lost in the land of dreams.
However, children suffer from sleep disorders, too. Not just snoring and nightmares. More serious than the occasional sleepwalking.
Insomnia in adults is a very common disorder. An occasional bout, a spell that lasts for weeks - and sometimes chronic insomnia that drags on for years --- all those can cause varying amount of sleep deprivation with its inherent dangers and discomfort.
Children can also suffer from insomnia. If you have a child who's restless every night, who awakens unrefreshed or irritable, then he or she may be a victim of childhood insomnia, and just as miserable as adult sufferers.
While, with adults, it's sometimes hard or impossible to come up for the cause of the sleeplessness, with children there's usually a very obvious cause. Find that cause, eliminate it and you will be well on the way to curing the insomnia.
Stress - Just like adults, children can suffer from stress, and it's can be a cause of insomnia.
If you have a child suffering from sleepless nights, take a look at his or her life. How are things at school? Is the household in the midst of financial or marital problems? Is your child being pestered by the bully down the street? You bet your life kids worry, more than you'd believe. Try to help with the problems.
Constipation or upset tummy - Something as simple as a bit of a stomach problem can cause occasional restlessness. Adults suffer from the same thing, so that's easy to understand. Is your child eating and eliminating properly? If not, it could be a problem.
Is your child in pain? Fibromyalgia strikes indiscriminately - young or old. Children can also suffer from a common problem called growing pains. Or even muscle cramps from a day of sports or playing too hard can be a cause of discomfort and sleeplessness.
Other sleep disorders including sleep apnea and restless legs --- children can be victims of any and all. Bad dreams, wetting the bed or a fear of doing so) grinding the teeth, asthma or heartburn. The list seems endless. Check out each and every possibility and eliminate it, and you'll be on the way.
And, when all else fails, a little extra love and cuddling and go a long way towards a good night's sleep - for both child and parents.
Many people think of sleep apnea as a disease of adulthood, and especially of adults over fifty years of age. It's also thought to be more prevalent in men. But, the truth is, anyone can get sleep apnea, from premature infants to senior citizens.
In the premature infant, central apnea is the most common. This is the apnea caused when messages from the brain never reach the nerves and muscles that control breathing. The respiratory center in a premature infant's brain is not yet mature. It's common for them to have brief episodes of apnea while sleeping.
If the problem is deemed to be serious, medication or a ventilator may be ordered. As the baby gets older, the brain matures and he/she begins to breathe normally. Usually the problem ends when the infant reaches the actual due date for birth.
Infant sleep apnea applies to infants over 37 weeks of age. This can be a frightening experience for parents. Their baby stops breathing while asleep, becomes very pale or even bluish in color, and the muscles are limp. These episodes of sleep apnea in an infant are often mistaken for SIDS, and there may be a connection, although this has not been proven as yet.
The major difference is that a child with sleep apnea can usually be revived. In fact, the baby may suffer several episodes of apnea before he outgrows the syndrome. In the case of SIDS, there is little or no hope of saving the infant.
IS APNEA INHERITED?
It is not uncommon to find sleep apnea in the family history of infants with either sleep apnea or SIDS. Other disorders that may also appear in the family history are asthma, bronchitis and allergies that attack the respiratory system.
APNEA IN CHILDREN
Apnea is also found in children. The most common age for this is from two to six years but it does continue through or strike children right into adolescence and even into the older teen years. It's characterized by the usual symptoms - loud snoring, cessation of breathing during sleep, restless sleep - but may also cause, because of sleep deprivation, poor performance in school, both in academics and other activities, such as sports.
Again, there seems to be a link to a family history of the syndrome. This may be from inherited physical characteristics. Apnea is most common in adults who are obese or have a very large, bulky neck. If the child inherits these characteristics, of course there is a possibility of getting apnea. Downs syndrome children often have these characteristics and, therefore, are at risk of becoming victims of sleep apnea.
One cause of apnea in children may be enlarged tonsils and adenoids. The disorder often disappears after these obstruction are removed. Also, watch the child's diet to avoid obesity. Unfortunately, sleep apnea that has apparently been cured or disappears during childhood may reappear in the adult years.
Two more sleep disorders that I'll cover in another article are enuresis (bedwetting) and bruxism (teeth grinding.)
Published On: July 01, 2007