Common Sleeping Problems In Children: Is Your Child At Risk For A Sleeping Disorder

If your child can't sleep, it impacts the whole family. You don't get enough sleep, either, and may be short-tempered or find yourself yawning throughout the day. And your child who is getting less than the recommended 10-11 hours of sleep may be acting out more or struggling at school.

But how do you know what's a typical childhood sleep issue that you don't need to worry about and what may be a sign of a problem?

Common Sleep Problems

Kids under the age of 12 may have some of these issues, which are relatively common and short-lived.

  • Waking up frequently throughout the night
  • Having trouble falling asleep
  • Getting nightmares or even night terrors
  • Talking or moving during sleep
  • Wetting the bed

While these are not fun to work through, they don't represent a major issue with sleep. In fact, almost all children experience at least one of these issues before they hit the middle school years. A chat with your child's pediatrician should give you some ideas for how to handle these things.

More Serious Sleep Problems

If your child is having other, more serious and ongoing difficulties, you will need to work with your pediatrician and probably a sleep disorder specialist (such as those found through Billings Clinic). There is still a good chance that your child will move on or grow out of some of these problems.

  • Trouble breathing, snoring or sleep apnea
  • Dyssomnias, or issues that include sleep-onset problems or insufficient sleep

In some cases, an overnight sleep study can identify causes of the problems and give you some information to work with on improving your child's quality of sleep.

Techniques for Handling Sleep Issues

One thing that parents can do to improve their child's ability to sleep is to establish a very consistent bedtime routine and schedule. This can help even older children to get their brains ready for sleeping. A routine might involve a bath, quiet reading time or a board game with a parent or sibling.

Other things that can help:

  • Identify any stressful changes in a child's life. Stress can manifest itself in sleep problems. By discussing stressful situations and working to teach your child ways to manage his or her stress, you can help reduce the issues.
  • Put your child to bed earlier. It may be that your kid is simply not getting enough sleep for his or her needs. Experiment with a bedtime that is one half-hour earlier and see if there is an improvement.

Your child is unlikely to have a serious sleep disorder, but if you are struggling to get over a problem, talk to your pediatrician about possible solutions.