Sleep Disorders Impact a Child’s Mental Health

Do you suspect that your child has a sleep disorder? A new study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) found in a survey of nearly 1,000 toddlers that serious sleep disorders in young children can have long-term mental health effects. Because the brain depends so heavily on sleep as a time to revive its functioning, it is not surprising to find that the effect on a child would be pronounced. The most common mental health conditions detected to be in conjunction with sleep disorders include anxiety, depression, ADHD, and behavioral problems.

In a child, sleep is essential to keeping their brain sorted, stored, and more throughout the night. Some of the basic things which occur in a child’s brain during a night of sleep includes storing of information, replacing of chemicals, and even problem solving. In addition, it is believed that too little sleep can affect growth and the immune system (in both children and adults).

The study found that a child may develop mental health issues because they are not getting enough sleep at night because of a sleep disorder. According to one of the main researchers on the study, Silje Steinsbekk, “Sleeping badly or too little affects a child’s day-to-day functioning, but we are seeing that there are also long-term repercussions.”

Symptoms of psychiatric problems may show up as early as six years of age. It is worth noting that parents should not get too worried if their child is having trouble sleeping because experts report that 20 to 40 percent of young children struggle with sleep in one way or another. If the trouble extends for a significant period of time, your child may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder.

There are a few reasons why a child may experience sleep disorder symptoms and psychiatric conditions in conjunction with one another. It is possible that both conditions are biological but it is also possible that not enough sleep impairs the body’s general functions. While you may never know if your child experienced one condition because of another, it is important to treat the two parallel conditions equally. Identification and treatment of health problems of any type is certain to give your child the life they deserve.

Sleep problems found in children studied by the researchers included insomnia, hyperinsomnia, and parasomnia. Hyperinsomnia is the opposite of insomnia where a person feels the extreme urge to sleep while parasomnia is characterized by nightmares and night terrors. If you believe your child is suffering from any of these conditions, contact the sleep doctors at FusionSleep. We are available to assess your child and determine if they have a sleep disorder which needs immediate treatment.

Source: Norwegian University of Science and Technology