It is estimated more than 95% of Americans suffering from a sleep disorder are undiagnosed. Most of these undiagnosed cases come in the form of a child or adolescent sleeping disorders known as parasomnia. Parasomnia, by the accounts of children, does not interrupt the quality of sleep. However, to the parent witnessing a child’s parasomnia, a decent night of sleep is often hard to obtain. Not only is the quality of parental sleeping disturbed, the mental anguish a parasomnia episode creates in a parent can often be debilitating. For most parents, this anguish is attributed to being unfamiliar with the parasomnia condition and at a loss as to how to remedy the situation. For parents, understanding the types of parasomnia conditions, the theoretical causes and methods for remedy, may provide not only a better night of rest to the child but also to the entire family.
Parasomnia is defined as “around sleep” meaning the person suffering from parasomnia is generally asleep but appears to be partially awake. Defined in three categories, paroxysmal, rhythmic and static, parasomnias are generally conditions which dissipate with age and can be relieved through some basic home remedy adjustments.
Paroxysmal parasomnia is the infrequent recurrence of a bedtime activity. An example might be bedwetting in which a child may wet the bed for several nights and then abruptly stop without any intervention. Bedwetting may not reappear for several weeks and then recur without warning again. Often, paroxysmal conditions are associated with stress and generally disappear on their own as the child ages.
The second type of parasomnia, known as rhythmic, is described as a consistent or repeated rocking in the sleep or thumping of the legs. As a general rule, this type of parasomnia is seen in children suffering from illnesses such as sinus infections or ear infections. Rhythmic parasomnia will generally remedy at the time the illness is cured.
The third type of parasomnia, known as a static disorder, is often overlooked as a parasomnia. Static disorder involves the irregular positioning of the body during sleep. An example may be sleeping with an arched back or sleeping with the eyes open. Static parasomnia disorders generally do not disturb the child nor the parent and simply appear odd when seen.
As a parent, seeking a remedy to parasomnia is a primary concern to keep the household at rest in the evening. As a general rule, children should obtain nine to 12 hours of sleep per night and should not consume caffeine or food after 6pm. As an added measure, televisions and radios should not be placed in the bedroom of a child as the bedroom should be a place of relaxation. Proper bedding supplies should be in place with an inviting area in which the child to rest. Pediatricians also recommend a regular exercise program.
After following these simple guidelines at home, should the child continue to suffer from parasomnia type sleeping, and there is no evidence of illness or infection, a consultation with a sleep study center may be in order. By arranging for a sleep study, the exact type and nature of parasomnia can be addressed in addition to recommendations for additional treatment including medications to assist with sleep schedule regulation.