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ruling out medical sleep problems

The good news regarding most children’s sleep problems is that they are behavioral and therefore can be resolved with thoughtful and consistent interventions.  However, approximately 10% of children have a true sleep disorder or have their sleep disturbed by asthma, allergies or an acid reflux problem.  Listed here are some symptoms that you should take your child to the doctor to explore further:

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  • loud and/or regular snoring
  • restless, noisy sleep
  • mouth breathing when sleeping
  • choking, snorting, gasping or wheezing during sleep or holding breath while sleeping
  • persistent night cough
  • trouble falling asleep even when tired
  • waking every hour or two throughout the night
  • appearing tired even after a good night of sleep
  • heavy sweating while sleeping
  • frequent and intense nightmares or night terrors
  • sleeping in strange, contorted positions
  • often waking with a headache, heartburn or sore throat
  • nasal sound in voice; regular mouth breathing
  • over six years old and still wetting the bed
  • difficult to wake; groggy after waking
  • sometimes has muscle weakness when laughing or crying
  • often inattentive, irritable, depressed or hyperactive during the day
  • frequently falls asleep in the car or in front of the TV

Keep in mind that not all doctors are familiar with sleep disorders.  You may wish to seek out a sleep disorders clinic for further investigation.  Again, most sleep problems are behavioral and therefore easily treated by changing your behavior (shaping your response to your child).  And for those sleep problems that are medical, where there are professionals who can help you there, too.

About Janeen Hayward, Sleep Guru

Janeen founded swellbeing, a parenting consultancy based in NYC - shortly after the birth of her first daughter in 2006. As a child development expert with a master's degree in clinical psychology, she helps parents nurture healthy and happy children.

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