Many parents worry about their children's sleep. There is no "right" amount of sleep for children, because each child's needs are different. But some children have sleep problems that keep them, and often their families, from getting the sleep they need. Some sleep problems go away on their own, and others may need medical care.
Sleep problems affect children in different ways. When a child has night terrors, usually everyone in the house knows it. The child screams during his or her sleep, and then once awake, the child does not remember the cry or what caused it. Some children get out of bed during the night and start walking, even though they are sound asleep. Some children wet the bed while sleeping. Some children regularly stop breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or longer (sleep apnea).
Your doctor will work with you to find out what is causing your child's sleep problem. Sometimes tests or sleep studies are needed. For many children, getting regular exercise, eating well, and having a good bedtime routine relieves sleep problems. If you try these changes and your child still has problems, the doctor may prescribe medicine or suggest other treatment.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: July 26, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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