Sleep disorders in children

18 October 2019

Dr Stuart Wilkinson is a Respiratory Paediatric Medicine Consultant at Spire Manchester Hospital. His sub-specialty interests include respiratory medicine, asthma and sleep disorders.

Does my child have a sleep disorder?

Sleep was previously thought of as a passive process, however it is now known to be an intense period of brain activity and vitally important for your child’s development and cognition. Up to one third of children experience sleep related issues at some point during childhood.

Whereas in adulthood poor quality or reduced quantity of sleep manifests as tiredness, in children inadequate sleep can result in behavioural disturbance, hyperactivity, mood swings, poor school performance and attention – all affecting your child’s development both socially and cognitively.

What causes sleep disorders in children?

Most parents worry about sleep apnoea which occurs when a child’s breathing pattern at night pauses, other symptoms include snoring or difficulty in breathing in at night. Obstructive sleep apnoea can result from loss of muscle tone 'floppy airway' whilst sleeping, enlarged tonsils, adenoids or obesity.

How are sleep disorders diagnosed?

Many sleep disorders can be diagnosed from taking a patient’s history and examination. Occasionally the use of sleep tests are undertaken.

Can they be treated?

There are a variety of treatment options depending on the cause. These can include simple explanation and reassurance, sleep hygiene education, medication to aid sleep or minor surgical procedures such as removal of tonsils or adenoids in circumstances of obstructive sleep apnoea.

The most important aspect is correct evaluation and diagnosis to prevent possible complications of poor sleep in childhood.

To make an appointment with Dr Wilkinson, please call 0161 447 6700.


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