Island Hospital
 
Pediatric Sleep Program
5/2/2013

For adults, the lack of quality sleep can have serious health, workplace and quality-of-life implications. But for children, sleep disorders can give rise not only to health problems, but to academic, behavioral, developmental, and social difficulties. And as any parent who has spent a night awake with a sleepless child knows, such a disorder can cause severe disruptions of family life.

Sleep disorders are common in children and while they may experience problems similar to those of adults, there are important differences according to Robert Reyna MD, Medical Director of the Sleep Wellness Center at Island Hospital.

“Defining disordered sleep in children can be challenging,” said Dr. Reyna. “Unlike adults, children experience different sleep patterns at different developmental stages.  A three-month old infant who wakes frequently in the night would not be considered abnormal, but in a three-year old child, the same behavior might raise concerns.”

Dr. Reyna added that determining whether a child has a sleep disorder may differ with family situations. What one family considers to be within the bounds of normal sleep behavior, another set of parents and siblings might find intolerable.

According to recent studies, sleep disorders, which are often due to temporary or ongoing medical problems, occur in as many as 25 to 30 percent of infants and children. Parents who are concerned that their child may have a sleep disorder may identify the following symptoms:

  • Snoring
  • Breathing difficulties while sleeping (apnea)
  • Bedtime refusal
  • Insomnia
  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep terrors, nightmares or nighttime fears
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability
  • Bedwetting
  • Difficulty falling or remaining asleep
  • Mood, behavior or school performance problems
  • Restless leg syndrome

If parents and the family's primary care doctor feel a child is suffering from a sleep disorder, a next step may be to schedule a sleep study. At Island Hospital's Sleep Wellness Center, specially trained physicians and staff will take a thorough patient history, perform a physical examination and evaluate the child's symptoms fully. If an overnight study is recommended, every effort is made to ensure the child's and parents' trust and comfort. Further treatment will depend on a diagnosis based on this study, coupled with an evaluation of the child's medical issues, school and family life.

For more information, call (360) 299-8676 or click here. The Sleep Wellness Center at Island Hospital is located at 1110 22nd Street, Anacortes.