Posted On: July 5, 2013 by Patrick A. Malone

Is Disrupted Sleep Worse for Kids or Parents?

Kids’ sleep issues are common complaints among parents, but a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies was unable to determine just who is harmed most by troubled sleep.

The study is preliminary, because it hasn’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The most common reports of troubled sleep reported in the survey were waking up at night and snoring. Among 300 respondents at two Cleveland health clinics, irregular sleep was a common complaint of 1 in 5, and snoring by nearly 14 in 100. About 5 in 100 said that both problems affected the child's health or family life, according to the presenter, Dr. Jyoti Krishna of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic.

But Krishna told MedPage Today that "We were unable to tease out whether the child's sleep problem was more of a problem for the parent than for the child."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that clinicians screen for pediatric sleep disorders. Pediatrician Mark Patterson said he tries to perform sleep screenings on a regular basis and cautions that sleep problems should be evaluated and diagnosed by a clinician because some parents would call any sleep disturbance a disorder, especially if it interrupts their own sleep.

"Some of these children's room monitors are so sensitive,” he said at the meeting, “they pick up any grunt or turn the child makes in his or her sleep.”

Pediatric sleep issues commonly are diagnosed by the BEARS questionnaire, a user-friendly screening tool whose name is an acronym of the questions it asks:

B - Bedtime


  • Does my child have trouble going to bed? Or
    trouble falling asleep?


E - Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

  • Is my child difficult to awaken in the
    morning?

  • Does my child seem sleepy or groggy during
    the day?

  • Does my child often seem tired during the
    day? (In children, tired may mean moody,
    hyperactive, “out-of-it,” as well as sleepy.)


A - Awakening During the Night

  • Does my child awaken during the night and have trouble going back to sleep?

  • Is anything else interrupting my child’s sleep?


R - Regularity and Duration of Sleep

  • How many hours of sleep does my child need at this age?

  • What time does my child go to bed and get up on weekdays? On weekends?

  • Does this allow my child to get enough sleep every day?


S - Snoring

  • Does my child snore? Loudly? Every Night?

  • Does my child stop breathing, gasp, or choke during sleep?


Although disorders identified by this measure are common, you have to ask yourself: If there are no or minimal effects on your child’s happiness or daily functioning, if the problem is solely disrupted sleep, is that a medical issue or an inconvenience?

For additional information and to help you determine if your kid’s sleep issue bears medical attention, see “Sleep Tips for Children and Infants” on the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Also, see our blogs, “Getting Your Baby to Sleep,” and “Early Sleep Problems Signal Later Emotional Troubles.”

Families interested in learning more about our firm's legal services, including legal representation for children who have suffered serious injuries in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia due to medical malpractice, defective products, birth-related trauma or other injuries, may ask questions or send us information about a particular case by phone or email. There is no charge for contacting us regarding your inquiry. An attorney will respond within 24 hours.

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