There are plenty of common sleep disorders in children and teenagers. Upto 50% of children will experience sleep-related problems in their lifetime. But, these issues are especially common in children who attend boarding schools and inhabit secure environments. This is because they will be anxious about new their new environment.
Sleep deprivation can result in negative consequences. Daytime sleepiness, irritability, behavioural problems and poor academic performance are all risks of continued sleep disruption. So, it is important that we understand what may cause these issues and how to treat them. These situations can be incredibly difficult, especially if a child is sharing a dormitory with others – then the other children will lack proper sleep and they can be left feeling anxious and afraid.
So, what are the common sleep disorders in children?
Insomnia is extremely common in children and is traditionally linked to anxiety. So, children who are new to boarding or secure environments are likely to experience this.
For children, insomnia can be difficult to deal with. Their moods, appetites and attention span all depend on their sleep quality – so if this is poor, their performance in the classroom will be too. So, it is important for us to recognise triggers that may bring on insomnia. Children who are new to boarding may experience this, but children who are not may also. Additional homework, problems with friends and mental health issues are all common factors with insomnia.
So, if you suspect that somebody in your school is suffering from this sleep disorder, speak to them. Let them confide in you, so you can identify the stressors. Once they have been identified, make a plan with the child to eradicate their anxieties.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
We all know how hard it is to get a good night sleep when there is somebody in the room that snores – right? But, sometimes, it just cannot be helped. Generally, OSA only occurs in 5% of children and teenagers – but with this been said, it can be quite disruptive, not just for the child suffering but for the children who have to share their dormitory.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea commonly causes night time snoring, gasping or choking and sleep disruption. It can be extremely embarrassing for children who share dormitories and can result in them feeling anxious about going to sleep – which will result in insomnia.
So, what causes OSA? Well it could be a multitude of things, from obesity to enlarged tonsils or adenoids. This condition is most often treated with some nasal steroids or weight loss if the cause is obesity. But as a last resort, a child may need to have their tonsils and/or adenoids removed.
Sleepwalking is extremely common amongst children, though it mostly occurs in boys. This is thought to happen as a result of an immature central nervous system issue or from being overly tired.
Sleep disorders like this can be terrifying for the child affected as they may wake up somewhere strange without any memory of how they got there. But, it is also quite frightening for those who share their room, as they may be woken in the night by the sleepwalker. As most of us know, sleepwalkers are not meant to be disturbed as they lack control over their bodies and can easily lash out.
Sleepwalking usually happens 1 – 2 hours after a child falls asleep and most of the time, the child will outgrow the condition. If you have a student that is a common sufferer, speak with their roommates and make them aware of what they should do in the event of a sleepwalking episode.