One of our goals is helping you and your team identify and better understand sleep disorders in children. To request an inservice:
Complete our sleep expert form
Critical sleep facts
- Obese children are 10 times more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA further disrupts sleep and makes these children seven times more likely to experience continued weight gain and hypertension.
- Early life predictors of obesity include short sleep duration (less than 10.5 hours) during infancy and early childhood.
- Insufficient duration or disrupted (poor quality/OSA) sleep at night results in:
- Increased cortisol levels and altered glucose tolerance
- Release of inflammatory cytokines
- Increase in SNS activity (hypertension)
- 20 percent decrease in production of leptin (appetite suppressant)
- 15 percent to 30 percent increase in the production of ghrelin (appetite stimulant)
- Short sleep duration is common in school-aged children, affecting 43 percent of sixth graders. It is even worse in young teens, affecting 70 percent of high school seniors.
Talking to parents
As the child’s primary care provider, you can screen for sleep disorders and encourage healthy sleep habits the same way you promote other good habits, such as a healthy diet and exercise. Sleep disorders can affect every aspect of a child’s physical, emotional, cognitive and social development.
How can you screen for the myriad sleep disorders during a busy office visit? Studies show that asking a simple question—“Does your child have sleep problems?”—is not as likely to identify sleep disorders as using a pediatric screening tool such as BEARS. The basic sleep issues are easy to remember with the BEARS acronym.
Sample question: Does your child have any problems falling asleep at bedtime?
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Sample question: Is your child sleepy during the day?
Awakening during the night
Sample question: Does your child wake up a lot at night?
Regularity and duration of sleep problems
Sample question: Is your child’s sleep schedule irregular, with inconsistent bedtimes and wake times from day to day?
Sample question: Does your child snore a lot or have trouble breathing at night?
If parents answer yes to any of these questions, then further investigation is needed. Provide counseling and handouts about common bedtime/sleep problems, and schedule another visit with the time necessary for discussion and management.