Common sleep stealers in children

Up to 10% of kids will have a sleep disorder of some kind


A national sleep foundation poll showed more than two out of every three kids ages 10 and under has experienced some type of sleep problem.  Seven-year-old Manasvi Rajiv can sleep now, but that wasn't always the case.

"I was wailing and crying and I was just shaking my legs," she said.

"It is fairly common up to 10-percent of kids will have a sleep disorder of some kind," said Lewis Milrod, MD, Director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at St. Peter's University Hospital.

Milrod says sleep disorders in children are often missed or misdiagnosed.

"A lot of kids can be diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder but it could be that the kids are not receiving enough sleep" he explained.

Some physical problems might be to blame. Enlarged tonsils, obesity, allergies, acid reflux, or even a small or recessed jaw may make it hard for kids to sleep.  Another common sleep stealer is sleep apnea.

"Kids tend to have shallower breathing, what we call hypopneas, so the parents may not realize," said Milrod.

Some children may also suffer from restless legs syndrome, when discomfort in the legs leads to repetitive motions. It's what doctors thought Manasvi had.

"We tried to put her back to sleep, she woke up again and she said mom my legs are hurting me, my feet are really hurting me," recalled Shilpa Rajiv, Manasvi's mom.

But tests showed she actually had an iron deficiency that was causing the leg pain. Now that it's corrected, she sleeps like a baby.

"I'm fine now. There is nothing to complain about my leg" Manasvi said.

Children and adolescents need at least nine hours of sleep per night. Not enough sleep can lead to poor performance at school, injuries, and behavior problems.