Sleep and Its Disorders in Children

Timothy F. Hoban, MD


Semin Neurol. 2004;24(3) 

In This Article

Abstract and

Although the physiological mechanisms that underlie sleep disorders in children differ little from those seen in adults, the clinical manifestations may differ considerably between the two. For example, sleep apnea in adults affects men more than women, is more prevalent in the obese, and presents with symptoms of snoring and excessive somnolence. In preadolescent children, sleep apnea affects both sexes equally, is more closely correlated with adenotonsillar enlargement than obesity, and may be more likely to present with daytime inattention and learning problems rather than frank somnolence. Likewise, the insomnia and associated bedtime struggles of a 3-year-old bear little resemblance to the insomnia of a mature adult apart from the fact that both individuals are unable to easily fall asleep. Sleep disorders in children are reviewed with particular focus on age-related changes in normal sleep and on sleep disorders that primarily or exclusively affect children. Pediatric aspects of other sleep disorders will be reviewed in more limited detail, with examination of how age, developmental level, and comorbid conditions cause clinical presentation and treatment to differ from that of adults.


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