Doctors ID new sleep disorder that affects kids night and day

Sleep is not always about the quantity that you get, it's about the quality. A good night sleep is good for the body and mind.

Good sleep is not just about the quantity of sleep a child gets, but also the quality. Now doctors have identified a new sleep disorder in kids. It not only affects them at night, but also during the day.

Jumping, roller blading, 9-year-old Emily Caveness is very active during the day -- and at night.

“I use to wake up like every couple of hours,” Emily said.

Emily’s mom, Melissa Caveness, recalled, “She would be at the bottom of her bed or have fallen out of the bed or her covers were all over the place.”

Melissa tried everything to help her daughter get quality sleep, but nothing worked. Until she saw a sleep specialist who diagnosed Emily with restless sleep disorder, or RSD.

“A newly identified pediatric sleep disorder that consists of frequent movements through the night once the child has fallen asleep,” explained Dr. Lourdes DelRosso, associate professor of pediatrics in the division of pulmonary and sleep medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

This disorder can also lead to daytime symptoms.

“Such as daytime sleepiness or sometimes inattention, hyperactivity, maybe some school or behavioral problems,” DelRosso said.

Researchers found kids with RSD had very low iron levels.

“Iron is a very important cofactor in the production of a neurotransmitter called dopamine,” DelRosso said.

Emily got an infusion of iron intravenously and took iron supplements for three months to treat her RSD.

“She was sleeping through the night better. She wasn’t all over the bed,” recalled Emily’s dad, Andrew Caveness.

Her mood changed, too.

“Less cranky and less tired,” Emily shared.

“Her relationships with her sisters, I think, have all improved because of better sleep,” Andrew noted.

Proving a good night’s rest is not only great for the body, but also the mind.

Emily gets tested every three to six months to check her iron and ferritin levels.

DelRosso said some kids with RSD with mildly low iron levels can add iron-rich foods, such as spinach, liver, and iron-enriched cereal to their diets. Check with your child’s doctor before deciding to give your child iron supplements.