Sleep disorders in children

Recognize the signs, deal with the symptoms, and help your child sleep better.

By: Oluwatosin Jolaoluwa

There are many different effects that sleeping disorders can have on a child. Sleep disorders have several causes – they can be due to health problems such as breathing, pain, trauma, poor sleeping routine, stress, etc. With the many effects that it can have on a child’s development, this article will help you know what to watch out for to see if your child has a sleeping disorder.

Common Types of Pediatric Sleep Disorders

From adolescents to even infants, sleep disorders can affect children across many different ages. Here are some of the most common sleep disorders children experience.

  • Sleep apnea – This occurs when your child’s breathing repeatedly starts and stops during sleep. 
  • Parasomnias – Abnormal or unintentional movements during sleep-wake transitions. 
  • Childhood insomnia – When your child has trouble falling, or staying asleep and wakes up too early. 
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome – A chronic disorder that affects a child’s body clock where they go to sleep two or more hours after their normal sleep time.
  • Restless leg syndrome – Occurs when your child wakes up with an urge to move or kick their legs repeatedly.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleeping Disorders in Children

Here are some signs and symptoms of sleep disorders in children. When one or more of these signs are observed, it could be a sign of more than just difficulty sleeping.

  • Snoring
  • Inability to fall asleep
  • Bedwetting
  • Uneasiness when sleeping
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Difficulty breathing while sleeping
  • Sleepwalking
  • Restlessness while sleeping
  • Sleeping excessively during the day
  • Poor performance during the day

What Can You Do To Help Your Child Sleep Better?

Create a healthy nighttime routine for your child

Most children have sleeping disorders because of their poor sleeping routines. This could include late-night television watching, playing games, or watching movies.

Parents need to set a healthy sleep routine for their children. Pick a time when they have to be in bed, whether they are feeling sleepy or not, and encourage them to go to bed early. After the nightly routine of brushing your teeth and cleaning, replace late-night screen time with healthy activities such as reading a bedtime story or singing bedtime rhymes. Doing this when they are much younger helps them build healthy sleeping habits as they grow older.

Use of medication as prescribed by qualified medical personnel

Depending on the kind of sleeping disorder your child is experiencing, a doctor or pediatrician may prescribe helpful medication. Some sleeping disorders are a result of an underlying medical condition, which has to be treated first in order to solve the sleeping disorder of the child. 

Serve them dinner early

Some children have issues sleeping when they eat late at night, so eating dinner early is paramount. Parents should ensure their children eat lightly and healthy at night — dinner is not a time to overfeed a child. Do not give them caffeinated drinks or too much sugar before they sleep, as it makes them hyper, which can result in late night sleep. This can cause the child to develop a sleeping disorder over time.

Reduce noise and lighting in the child’s room

Television volume should be reduced if the television can not be turned off. Once it is bedtime, reduce every form of noise possible. If the child has a television in his or her room, it should be turned off at bedtime. Lighting should be reduced in the child’s room as well, as seeing the light may encourage the child to stay up and play. However, if necessary, a night light or lamp can be switched on while other lights are switched off if it makes the child more comfortable. Reducing the lighting and noise makes the room much more comfortable for sleep.

Sleeping disorders can be caused by several things, but taking the right actions can help curb these disorders in children. With the proper routine, you can prevent a sleeping disorder from developing and ultimately help your child get a good night’s sleep.

Works Cited

Alli, R. A. (Ed.). (2020, June 14). Sleep disorders in children: Symptoms and treatments. WebMD. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from

Roddick, J., & Cherney, K. (2020, July 28). Sleep disorders: Causes, diagnosis, & treatments. Healthline. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from

Newton, April. “Here’s How to Spot Sleep Disorders in Children and When to Ask for Help.” Edited by Mia Armstrong, Healthline, Healthline Media, 5 Nov. 2021,