Sleep Problems are Frustrating

By Renee Martinez, Founder of Raising Boys World

Photo by Indi SamarajivaSleep problems are frustrating – for both the parent and child. According to the National Institute of Health, there are more than 100 types of disorders associated with sleeping and waking. Since boys have higher rates of ADHD, certain sleep problems that affect kids with ADHD would naturally have a higher rate of occurrence in boys. Same with bedwetting. It’s not to say that sleep issues overall affect boys more, but that certain types of sleep issues may have a higher rate of instance in boys than girls. Be sure to click on the links for more info. I did not touch on the issue of sleep disorders and increased substance abuse in adolescence.

The main cause of sleep problems is poor sleep habits. Children who nap too long during daytime hours, go to bed too early or spend too much time awake in bed may experience sleep problems. Irregular sleep schedules can affect a child’s ability to maintain a regular sleep pattern.
In other cases, emotional (stress) or psychiatric conditions (anxiety or depression) can result in sleep problems.  For toddlers and young children, testing their sleep limitations can become a test between parents and children.
Other causes of sleep disorders in children may include:
•    Food and drink that contain caffeine, such as soft drinks and chocolate, can cause difficulties in falling asleep.
•    Medications can interfere with sleep. Drugs used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may affect a child’s sleep.
•    Asthma, or children who carry a few extra pounds, can interfere with sleep.
•    Stress can disrupt sleep patterns. From death of a loved one to moving or school changes.
•    Watching television, or spending too time on the computer at before going to bed, may hinder a child’s sleep.

The following category breakdown will help you better understand:

Parasomnias are disorders that involve abnormal behavioral or physiological events during sleep. They involve partial arousal or interfere with sleep. Some common examples that affect children include:
•    Arousal disorders such as sleepwalking and night terrors.  Night terrors often tend to affect boys and usually occur between the ages of 4 and 12. Sleepwalking also affects boys more than girls and usually begins between the ages of 6 and 12. According to the NSF, up to 40 percent of children sleepwalk.
•    Sleep-wake transition disorders interfere with sleep. Sleeptalking – when a child talks, laughs or cries during sleep – but does not remember the next day. Sleeptalking usually does not require treatment.
•    Nightmares. While many children have an occasional nightmare, 3 to 5 percent may experience chronic nightmares. Unfortunately, an interruption with a child’s sleep and an ability to feel rested.
•    Teeth-grinding (bruxism). Children who clench and grind their teeth during sleep.
•    Bedwetting, known as enuresis, affects 15 percent of children – especially boys – after the age of 3, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Occasional bedwetting is a normal part of childhood.

Some sleep abnormalities may not evolve into a sleep disorder, such as snoring. In other cases, children may resist sleep or develop poor sleep habits.

Dyssomnias affect the amount, timing or quality of sleep. The result is excessive sleepiness during the day. Some common dyssomnias that affect children include:
•    Insomnia: Poor, non-restful sleep including difficulty falling asleep or waking up and unable to fall back asleep as well as waking up too early in the morning.
•    Sleep apnea. Causes shallow or arrested breathing while sleeping. Each pause in breath usually lasts 10 to 20 seconds and occur 20 to 30 times per hour. Sleep apnea in children is associated with daytime drowsiness, poor academic performance and hyperactivity. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) between 1 and 3 percent of children have this disorder. Children who are obese have a higher risk for having this problem.
•    Restless legs syndrome (RLS) causes unpleasant sensations in the legs. Feelings described as tingling, pulling or painful. Changes in bedtime routine, increased iron in the diet or certain medications can cause RLS.
•    Narcolepsy. Chronic sleep disorder that even after a person has had adequate nighttime sleep, will feel overwhelming daytime sleepiness or short bursts of sleep. The cause is unknown. While it may begin as early as age 10, it’s not usually noticed until puberty.
•    According to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, about 250,000 Americans have narcolepsy.
•    Periodic limb movement disorder (nocturnal myoclonus). Occasional bursts of jerking and kicking during sleep.

For more information click on the links below:

Children’s Sleep Problems

Sleep problems and substance abuse
ADHD and sleep problems

ADHD linked to sleep disorders


Photo by TBC Photo  www.tbcphoto.comAbout the Author: Renee Martinez is the mother of 4 boys, the founder of,, and the president of RubyMarCom (, a boutique marketing communications company.  Her business blog (, provides resources on everything marketing and social media related  for her active audience. 
Renee is an adjunct professor at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY where she teaches social media marketing in the business school. Find Renee on Twitter at @reneemmartinez.

Photo of Sleeping Boy by Indi Samarajiva, found on Flickr