Types and Symptoms of Children Sleep Disorders

Most pediatrician are frequently bombarded with queries relating to children’s sleep patterns in the context of their impacts on their health. This article will help you understand all the basic sleep disorders your kids might have or to identify the symptoms resulting in sleep disorders.

Along with recognizing the problem, its treatment is equally important. Children love candies and chocolates, ice cream, and other unhygienic stuff.  It is very hard to keep children away from these things. Frequent use of candies and chocolates annihilates the children’s gums. But there is an alternative for kid’s candy obsession which is the candy like melatonin gummies available for kids that are very tasty and full of essential nutrients with multiple health benefits, including a healthy sleep.

Epidemiological studies indicate that up to 50% of children experience sleep disorders. In fact about 4% of the children have confirmed diagnosis of sleep disorders. Problems like irritability, learning issues, and poor academic performance are a few symptoms showing underlying sleep disorder conditions.  Sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome are a few types of sleep disorders commonly encountered in kids. 


This is a condition whereby children tend to sleep during the daytime. This occurs mainly due to inadequate sleep experienced during the nighttime. Daytime sleeping aggravates a lot of conditions like poor academic performance, irritability, behavioral problems, and learning difficulties. Newborns require much more sleep, and they have fragmented wake-sleep cycles. As the age increases, the length of sleep time is reduced considerably, totally abolishing the need for daytime sleeping provided no sleep disorder is found. 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

It occurs mostly in children aged 2 to 8 years. The common symptoms associated with this disorder are snoring, sleep-related paradoxical breathing, morning headaches, cognitive/behavioral issues, enlarged tonsils, or pectus excavatum. The diagnosis is made using PSG (polysomnography with index reading for apnea-hypopnea greater than 1.5). The treatment for this disorder includes Adenotonsillectomy, nasal steroids, or rapid maxillary expansion.


Sleepwalking is found in children aged 8-12 years mostly. It is rather more common among males than females. Its symptoms include open eyes, difficulty sleeping, confusion/agitation, ambulation during sleep, or difficulty waking up. PSG is not required. Only history can identify this problem. Its treatment includes Benzodiazepines, Bedroom/safety counseling, and increased total sleep time.

Sleep Terrors:

It is found in children aged 3 to 13 years. It affects both male and female kids. It has onset in early childhood. Its symptoms include perceived intense fear, potentially dangerous activities, and difficulty to awaken during episodes. It is diagnosed by history. It is treated with reassurance, benzodiazepines, and scheduled awakenings. 


It occurs between 3 years to 10 years of age. It peaks between 6 years to 10 year aged kids. It affects male and female children equally. The symptoms present in this disorder are unpleasant dreams, increased sympathetic response, and increased reluctance to fall asleep. The treatment prescribed for such conditions includes cognitive behavioral therapy, reassurances, and medications that suppress rapid eye movement sleep.

Restless Legs Syndrome:

It is most common in women. It is unknown whether female or male kids have this issue more. The symptoms for this disorder are the urge to move legs with associated discomfort, often beginning in the evening and worsening at night, associated with negative behavior and mood, decreased cognition and attention, and iron deficiency. Its treatment is done by avoiding nicotine and caffeine, iron supplements, benzodiazepines, levodopa, gabapentin, and tricyclic antidepressants. 

Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder:

This disorder has its onset in adolescence while it peaks in the ‘20s. According to research, 7%  to 16% of children experience this problem. Its symptoms generally include difficulty falling asleep and waking at socially acceptable times. It is diagnosed by taking history. Treatment includes sleep hygiene education, melatonin gummies for kids, bright light therapy, regular sleep-wake cycle.

Behavioral Insomnia of Childhood:

It means difficulty in falling asleep. It affects males and females equally. It is diagnosed by taking history. It has two types, namely:

  1. Limit-Setting Type: In this condition, there’s difficulty initiating sleeping or maintaining it, bedtime refusal/stalling is also observed, parents fail to set boundaries and give in to the child.

  2. Sleep Onset Association Type: Frequent nighttime awakenings, difficulty maintaining sleep, or difficulty initiating sleeping. 

The common treatment for this disorder includes parental education, extinction techniques, and prevention. 

Confusional Arousal:

It occurs mostly in children 3-13 years old and rarely in 13-15 years olds. Symptoms showing this disorder include sleep drunkenness, inappropriate behavior, slurred speech, or confusion after awakening. Its treatment is done with reassurance, increased total sleep time, and scheduled awakenings. 


As the growth hormone is released in kids while they are in a deep sleep, it is imperative to diagnose and treat such disorders in adolescence as they say the sooner, the better. It is the responsibility of parents to take care of their kids’ eating, sleeping, and playing routines.

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