Sleep Disorders in Children Medicine Essay

Sleep is an intricate neurological state, which has a main function of providing rest and restoring the energy levels of the body. The importance of sleep can be witnessed from the fact that person’s spends a third of his or her live in sleep. It is an active rhythmic neurological process stimulated by numerous areas of the brain. Moreover, sleep can also be a tool for measuring the overall health of a person. Often, healthy individuals tend to sleep well, while people suffering from different medical or mental conditions can experience repeated sleeping problems.
Changes in the quantity, quality, as well as the pattern of sleep may lead to the development of sleep disorders. Continuous or regular interruption of sleep also affects the health of an individual. Sleep disorders, also known as somnipathy, can be defined as a medical condition that interferes with the sleep patterns of an individual or an animal. Some deviations can be more serious to the extent that they affect the normal mental, physical, and emotional functioning of a person. The number of cases of sleep- related disorders has been on the rise over the last few years, especially among the students. More than a third of students experience some sleeping problems (Monti, Jaime, and Daniel 33). The disorders are harmful to students’ daily life, so students should go to sleep on time. The current paper reviews the causes, types, prevention, and effects of sleep related disorders among school going children.

The Role and Effects of Sleep Loss

Sleep is the foundation of behavior and physiology. The scientists divide sleep pattern is into two forms: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) phases. The alternation between the two occurs at an interval of about ninety minutes, making it between four to five cycles during a night of a normal sleep.
Sleep plays a significant role in human life and wellbeing. Even though scientists have not yet found the reason why people need sleep, studies on animals suggests that it is a necessity for survival. In fact, sleep enables the body to repair and rejuvenate. During sleep, most of the body cells exhibit an increased production of proteins, which are necessary for the cell growth and repair of damages from stress and environmental factors, like UV rays. Studies claim that many biochemical and physiological processes take place during sleep, which has made many researchers agree that sleep is crucial for health and wellness.

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The purpose of sleep can also be seen from a different angle by assessing the impacts of sleep loss on the physiological and cognitive functions of a person. Some of the activities include emotional control, memory, complex thought, and motor response. Apart from the above functions, previous studies have shown that the loss of sleep may have detrimental effects on the immune and the endocrine systems, and may lead to several health concerns such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. Moreover, sleep loss affects moods of an individual. In fact, the irritation increases for a person after a sleepless night. Increasing evidence has linked inadequate sleep with anger, sadness, and anxiety.

Students and Sleep Patterns

Students are more probable to suffer from excessive study pressure, and short sleeping hours, hence may have sleep disorders. Since the sleeping disorders affect the physiological and cognitive functions of a person, such students may show a poor emotional control and decreased memory. The students may also have poor concentration ability in class and will have a problem in learning. The complex thought of the sleep deprived people will also be affected. In most cases, the affected students are likely to choose simple tasks and avoid the difficult ones. The complex thought enables a person to stand up to challenges and develop solutions for complicated challenges. Hence, the sleep deprived person will tend to avoid the difficult tasks when the complex thought is compromised (Hsu et al. 112).

Causes of Sleep-Related Disorders

The causes of sleep-related disorders are numerous. Although the contributing factors are different, the end result of the sleep-related disorder is that the natural cycle of rest at night and activity at daytime is disrupted or inhibited. The causative aspects of sleep problems include physical disturbances, medical conditions such as asthma, psychiatric disorders, as well as environmental factors. Other recognized causes of sleeping disorders are the changes in the student’s daily schedules, emotional and health conditions, adoption to the adult world, the exam proximity, stress, physical disorders, and lifestyle factors.

An alteration in the plan of an individual’s daily schedule may cause some problems in the sleeping arrangement of the person. A shift of a work schedule may be a cause of discomfort. In fact, people who work at night often suffer from sleeping disorders. The reason is that the subjects may not be able to sleep when they feel drowsy due to their responsibilities. Thus, their duties and activities conflict with their biological clocks.

The emotional distress, physical illnesses, as well as medical states also lead to sleep problems. The health issues such as asthma causes problems in proper breathing, which in turn interferes with sleep of the individual. Other physical disturbances such as pains from ulcers or other traumas affect the rest cycles, leading to a sleeping problem. Moreover, external issues such as alcohol and other substance abuse cause sleep-related problems. Moreover, substance abuse can result in other conditions like delirium tremors that include sleep loss as a symptom.

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The most significant causes of sleeping disorders in students are the psychiatric or psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. The conditions generally result to stress, which is one of the main reasons why students develop sleep-related problems. The students might be anxious because of proximity of an exam, or they may be depressed due to the unsatisfying exam results. In fact, the proximity of an exam may force the students to change their rest-activity patterns, or may reduce the number of sleeping hour by increasing study time. In most of the cases, sleep problems are temporary, but they may last for a long time. Moreover, other causes of sleep-related disorders are genetics and aging. Researchers have found that narcolepsy, a brain disorder of sleep regulation that interferes with the control of sleep and wakefulness is genetically predisposed. Store (76) confirms that persons over the age of sixty five experience some sorts of sleep challenges or even disorders.

The primary sleep disorders are caused by disturbance in mechanisms related to sleep-wake generating and timing, which may be either dyssomnias or parasomnias. Dyssomnias are related to the quality, amount or timing sleep disfunctioning. Parasomnias are associated with the unusual experiences or behaviors that occur during sleep. The conditions and the psychological events may interfere with certain processes of normal functioning, leading to a disruption of sleep-wake cycle transition. In general, most of the sleep disorders relate to another mental condition, which may medically, environmentally, or substance induced (Monti, Jaime, and Daniel 37).

Generally, the indications of sleep disorders differ from one disorder to another. Most of the disorders include the symptoms listed below. Lack of the ability to fall and stay asleep at night and persistent daytime sleepiness are correlated contributing factors. Also, loud snoring sounds during sleep disrupt the rest cycles. Sleep doses, or unintended episodes of falling asleep are another factor leading to sleep disorders. Loss of muscle control or inability to move during sleep affects the organism functioning. Finally, abnormal behaviors such as sleepwalking or sleep terrors are a major issue for people.

Individuals are encouraged to discuss any sleep-related problem they may experience with a neurologist or any primary care provider because the symptom often might be caused by an underlying medical condition. The neurologist will be able to diagnose and assist in managing the disorder. Diagnosis of sleeping disorder entails an evaluation of the symptoms by the neurologist, in addition to some tests such as daytime sleepiness. Keeping of sleep history is also important in the process of diagnosis.

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Types of Sleeping Disorders

There are more than a hundred recognized sleep disorders as per the international classification manual. However, the most common sleep problems are divided into three main groupings including disorders that produce insomnia, disturb sleep, and cause daytime drowsiness. They are grouped into insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, sleepwalking, and sleep-related disorders. The types are discussed below in detail.


Insomnia is the most prevalent sleep issue across the general population. It describes as the inability to fall asleep for a sufficient time to give a feeling of being rested or refreshed the following day. Insomnia can be viewed as constitutional in nature, but evidence has shown that it can develop due to psychiatric problems, including depression or substance abuse if untreated. In fact, depression can cause insomnia, while insomnia can also cause depression. Individuals suffering from sleep condition experience a general increase in arousal and secretion of cortisol. Treatment of insomnia requires medication usage, and there are several pharmacological choices available. Among the chemical treatment choice, the benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines are the most approved. Treatment of insomnia can also be done by addressing the underlying problem, especially by use of medication. Finally, cognitive behavioral treatment, although time consuming, may also be successful if properly strategized (Roth and Thomas 32).

Sleep Apnea

The condition is one of most prevalent sleep disorder, in which breathing momentarily stops during sleeping due to the obstruction of the upper respiratory system. The blockage may be a consequence of a fall in the blood oxygen. The halts in breathing interrupt sleep, resulting in many awakenings in the night. Although most people with sleep apnea do not remember the awakenings, they will experience exhaustion during the following day. Moreover, the condition also causes irritation and depression, and reduces productivity. Sleep apnea is a warning light of a possible presence of a cardiac condition or type 2 diabetes. The disorder is serious and life threatening illness; hence should be addressed as soon as possible. Symptoms include loud persistent snoring, regular choking during sleep, exhaustion during the day, chest pain, and nasal blockage among others. A sleep disorder test polysomnography is used to confirm the diagnosis of apnea and to measure the seriousness.


The neurological disorder affects one in two thousand persons. It is symptomized by a propensity to fall asleep during the day, despite having sufficient amount of sleep in the night. The other symptoms include sudden short attacks of muscle weakness, hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations, automatic behavior, and sleep paralysis. The study of narcolepsy has revealed that wakefulness and sleep are not equally distributed states; and that one state can encroach into the other, normally resulting in striking consequences. Narcolepsy is genetically predisposed, although environmental factors can also trigger the condition.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

RLS is a sleep disorder causing a stout, mostly irresistible desire to move one’s legs accompanied by tingling and uncomfortable sensations. The condition causes a problem in attaining proper sleep and maintaining it. It results from prolonged sitting or lying down. The discomforts of RLS occur particularly during the transition from wake to sleep. Although it cuts across all ages, RLS is more common in older adults and is more prevalent among women than men. Development of RLS is caused by several medical problems including renal disease, RA, and other illnesses. Research has also found that it is genetically predisposed; and the fact explains why RLS is often seen to run in families. Treatment varies with intensity, ranging from massage to pharmaceutical medication. The majority of the cases respond to benzodiazepines, anti-Parkinsonian agents, anticonvulsants, and opiates. Treating of the underlying medical condition is paramount.



Sleepwalking happens when an individual seems to be awake, with open eyes, but he or she is actually in a deep slumber. It is more common in children between six to twelve years, but it also affects adults. The duration of episodes varies on individual basis, and patients usually have little or no memory of their undertakings.

Sleep-Related Disorders

A good number of mental, neurological, as well as other medical disorders are related to disturbances of sleep and wakefulness. The line between physiological and mental is very thin, and they often intertwine. Nearly all mental disorders are related to sleep disturbances. Mood disorders, psychoses, alcoholism, panic disorders, and anxiety disorders are mostly present in patients who have sleep complaints. Also, most psychotic patients suffer from some degree of sleep disturbance across the course of the disease. Degenerative disorders, headaches, and epilepsy are the most common neurological conditions associated with sleep deprivation and disorders. They also include Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and cerebral degenerative disorders (Kim and Woo Sung 173).

Moreover, the other medical conditions have presentations occurring during sleep or interfering with the normal sleep cycle. Gastro esophageal reflux, sleep related asthma and nocturnal cardiac ischemia are the examples of the medical conditions that happen during sleep. For example, sleeping sickness is a parasitic disease found rarely in Africa, which presents disturbed sleep cycle with night-time insomnia and daytime sleepiness.
Prevention and Treatment of Sleeping Disorders

Most of the sleep disorders can be prevented and treated at all stages. Regardless of the advances in the recognition and description of sleeping disorders, a slight progress in prevention, suggestions to personalized care and treatment has been developed. More research is necessary to develop prevention plans, discover more available and affordable diagnostic techniques, establish personalized treatment, and improve the prevailing management. It is estimated that most individuals with sleep disorders misdiagnosed, undiagnosed and insufficiently treated. Furthermore, accessibility to care and treatment is restricted due to the fact that the management of such disorders often requires specialized training, which is costly and time-consuming engagement. There is an unmet necessity for personalized treatment and pocket-friendly methods. The available knowledge and data on sleep disorders provides scientific background for the much needed advances.

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Generally, sleep disorders can be prevented through various conventional methods. The best approaches are to avoid the known predisposing risk factors, and most importantly is to treat the underlying medical conditions. The importance of programs directed at the community service and public awareness of sleep disorders is a crucial factor in prevention strategy. There should be a close partnership between sleep medicine and basic science which could lead to a positive contribution to medical research and patient management.

Treatment of sleep disorders can be achieved either through the use of medications, or by the application of behavioral methods. On the one hand, the medication approach employs neurological-acting drugs, such as depressants, which treat the underlying mental or medical conditions. On the other hand, behavioral treatment employs several techniques like relaxation training, cognitive therapy, stimulus control, sleep restriction therapy, as well as sleep hygiene (Moon and Hwa Sik 267).

Sleep disorders are a group of medical conditions that interferes with the sleep patterns of an individual. Some of the disorders can be severe to the degree that poses tremendous effects to the normal functioning of the mental, emotional, and physical components of an individual. There has been a rising trend of sleep disorder cases globally, especially among students. Sleep is very important for life, as it helps the body rejuvenate and rest. Moreover, lack of sleep makes a person drowsy during the day, hence reduces productivity.

The biggest problem of most students is that they choose such lifestyle. The amount of sleep that a student gets influences academic achievements and success. Generally, sufficient sleep improves the physical health and mental concentration. On the contrary, lack of sleep increases the chances of various medical conditions including obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. However, the advantageous fact is that most of these disorders can be prevented and treated, whereby treatment can either by use of drugs or behavioral treatment. However, students should not allow the sleep deprivation to reach critical levels, as there is a challenge of accessing the services. Indeed, accessibility to care and treatment is restricted due to the fact that the management often requires specialized training that is a costly and time consuming engagement. In order to address the problem, the stakeholders should work together closely to improve the medical science, so as to increase the quality of management and care given to the individuals suffering from sleep disorders as well as sleep-related problems.

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