Sleeping Disorders: What are they and how do you treat them?

by | Health, Parent Resources

Are your kids getting enough sleep every night? Some of the most common problems affecting kids occur when they go to bed. Many children are affected with sleeping disorders that cause them to be sleep-deprived throughout the day. To easily diagnose if your child is sleep deprived, look at how easily they fall asleep, wake up, and how tired they are during the day. If any of these factors are affecting your child’s energy levels, treatment is available to help remedy the issue.

How much sleep does my child need?

Your school-aged kids need about 9 to 12 hours of sleep per night. During a normal period of sleep, a cycle occurs between the rapid eye movement (REM) stage and the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage. The REM sleep is lighter, making it the time that your child will most likely wake up. It is also the stage where dreams occur. The NREM is a deep sleep where your child is less likely to wake up. When disturbances occur in the NREM cycle, your child may be facing a sleep disorder.

Night Terrors

Night terrors are a common problem affecting school-aged kids. These are characterized by sudden emotional outbursts of fear. It may seem that your child is awake, but they are in fact sleeping. Your child will not remember the outburst once they wake up. It is important not to wake your child if they are experiencing a night terror. Generally, your child will grow out of experiencing night terrors, but in extreme cases, an appointment with a mental health specialist may be necessary.


Sleepwalking commonly occurs in children aged 8 to 12. When sleepwalking, children may be moving and speaking. It is important to make sure you keep your child safe, but you should not awaken the child if they are sleepwalking. In order to help reduce sleepwalking, you can awaken the child on a regular schedule.


Generally, nighttime bedwetting does not signify a serious emotional problem. If your child has bedwetting issues, it is important to encourage them that one day they will not have the problem anymore. Also, reducing liquids before bedtime can help with this issue. However, if bedwetting reoccurs after years of non-bedwetting, your child may be facing emotional stress. In order to deal with a reoccurrence of bedwetting, counselling should be sought to address any issues that may be present.

Sleep-Onset Anxiety

Children affected with sleep-onset anxiety have excessive worries that keep them from falling asleep. This anxiety may occur from a particularly stressful event, or from unwarranted worry about certain issues that occurred in the day. You should encourage your child to develop coping strategies in order to deal with anxiety and worry in a constructive way. Calming bedtime routines and reassurance can help ease this anxiety.

As your kids mature, sleep disorders often go away on their own. However, if your child experiences ongoing issues related to sleep, a trip to a sleep specialist or mental health professional can help ease these issues.