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More on Children's Sleep Requirements and the Importance of a Good Night's Sleep

Children's Sleep Requirements and the Importance of a Good Night's Sleep

New York (Jan 24, 2010)

Pediatric Interventional Cardiologist Joins Komansky Center for Children's Health

Sleep deprivation has become a pervasive health problem in the United States, for children as well as adults. According to pediatric sleep specialist Carin I. Lamm, MD, Director of the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, many children and teenagers do not get the required number of hours they need for a number of behavioral reasons, including:

  • late bedtime
  • amount of homework
  • after-school activities
  • distractions before sleep (i.e., TV, computer, telephone)

Types of Sleep Disorders

Other reasons for sleep deprivation may be related to the use of certain medications, as well as sleep disorders that include:

  • obstructive sleep apnea — a common sleep related breathing disorder caused by obstruction of the airway that leads to pauses in breathing during sleep. May be caused by large tonsils and adenoids, obesity craniofacial anomalies, and neuromuscular problems.
  • insomnia — difficulty in achieving or maintaining normal sleep. In sleep-onset insomnia, a person has a difficult time falling asleep. In sleep-maintenance insomnia, a person suffers from frequent or early awakening.
  • sleep-wake cycle disorders — unusual sleep cycles that do not conform to a regular night sleep cycle. These sleep cycles can result in inappropriate sleepiness during morning hours or late afternoon hours.
  • narcolepsy a neurological and chronic disorder marked by a sudden, recurrent and uncontrollable compulsion to sleep, typically beginning in adolescence and young adulthood
  • sleepwalking (somnambulism) — a series of complex behaviors that are normally associated with wakefulness while a person is asleep or in a sleep-like state. Sleepwalking can occur at any age, but most often occurs in children ages 6 to 12. An estimated 15 percent of all children between the ages of 4 and 12 have walked in their sleep at least once, and most outgrow the disorder by adolescence.
  • night terrors — most common in children between the ages of 2 to 6, but can occur at any age. Night terrors are characterized by frequent recurrent episodes of intense crying and fear during sleep, with difficulty arousing the child. It is often difficult to fully awaken the child, and after the episode, he or she normally settles back to sleep without waking. Unlike nightmares, which are frequently dreams of a frightening nature, night terrors are not recalled dreams. Usually there is no situation or event that is dreamed, but rather the emotion of fear itself is felt.

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

"If a child is not sleeping enough or not sleeping well, it can lead to poor concentration and the inability to complete a task or make decisions," says Dr. Lamm. Other consequences of too little sleep include:

  • altered behaviors and changes in mood
  • inability of the body to metabolize glucose
  • impaired immune system
  • becoming accident prone

General Sleep Requirements

Dr. Lamm recommends that generally an optimal amount of daily sleep for each age group is:

  • toddler — 12 to 14 hours
  • preschool child — 11 to 13 hours
  • schoolage (6 to 11 years) — 10 to 11 hours
  • teen — 8.5 to 9.5 hours
  • adult — 7 to 9 hours

About the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center

The Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center at Morgan Stanley Children's provides the diagnosis, management, and treatment of sleep disorders in newborns, children and adolescents. Dr. Lamm along with a team of pediatric pulmonologists, a nurse practitioner, behavioral therapists, and nutritionists to evaluate and treat children with all types of sleep disorders. Pediatric specialists in neurology, endocrinology, cardiology, psychiatry, otolaryngology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, bariatric surgery, and cardiology are also consulted as needed.

The Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center offers state-of-the-art computerized equipment that permits a wide variety of evaluation techniques. Selected patients may require a polysomnogram, an overnight sleep study in the Center's comfortable and child-friendly two-bed sleep laboratory located in the Sarah E. Nash Lung Center. Parents stay overnight with their child, while technicians monitor the child continuously and also provide one-on-one care for physical and emotional support.

"Parents should talk to their child's doctor about any ongoing sleep problems," adds Dr. Lamm. "Early diagnosis and treatment will promote their child's long-term health and well-being.

Faculty Contributing to this Article:

Carin I. Lamm, MD, Director, Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, and Associate Clinical Professor, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

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