What is a sleep disorder?

A sleep disorder is a disruption in a child's normal sleeping pattern. A child with a sleeping disorder may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or getting enough sleep, or may experience unusual daytime sleepiness or exhibit inattention and behavioral problems.

Sleep disorders may also include disruptive sleeping behaviors, such as night terrors, sleepwalking or repetitive leg movements.
It is estimated that more than 3 million children suffer from sleep disorders.S

Sleep disorders in children often go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed because:

  • Families may try over-the-counter-medicines and other approaches to help their child sleep without telling their doctor about the problem.
  • Parents and doctors worry more about what is happening to the child during the day and may not be aware of the negative impact poor sleep may have on daytime performance and the child's well-being.
  • Children often display symptoms such as hyperactivity and inattention when they have a sleep disorder; therefore, doctors may not consider sleep disruption as a cause.