Sleeping is required for normal growth and development. Sleep disorders are common in children and can have a negative impact on their health and well-being.


  • Childhood sleep complaints are common. Some of these complaints may be signs of a sleep disorder.
  • Common sleep disorders include obstructive sleep apnea, parasomnias, behavioral insomnia of childhood, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder and restless legs syndrome.
  • A sleep disorder can cause problems for your child’s daytime alertness, mood, school performance and safety.
  • Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders can contribute to insomnia, sleepiness and safety concerns, as well as other health consequences such as obesity and diabetes.
  • Treating a sleep disorder may prevent or minimize its negative effects on health and performance.

Is My Child At Risk:

Up to 50% of all children have a sleep problem, but a much smaller percentage of children have a serious sleep disorder.


Sleep is required for the healthy development of a child’s body and brain. Poor sleep in a child can cause:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Behavioral problems
  • Learning difficulties
  • Poor academic performance
  • Motor vehicle accidents in teens

The most common sleep problem in children is a lack of adequate sleep time. Younger children require the longest sleep duration. Children require less sleep as they age.


Help your child develop healthy sleep habits that will last a lifetime:

  • Set a regular bedtime for your child.
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine to help your child settle down at night.
  • Set a “technology curfew” to limit use of cell phones, tablets and other devices in the evening.
  • Create a soothing bedroom environment that is quiet, dark and cool.


Obstructive sleep apnea

  • A child snores very loudly and has short breathing pauses during sleep.
  • Occurs in 1-5% of children.


  • A child looks awake, but is really sleeping. Sleepwalking, sleep talking, sleep terrors and nightmares are commons types.
  • Occurs in up to 50% of children.

Behavioral insomnia of childhood

  • A child has difculty falling asleep or staying asleep without the presence of a parent.
  • Occurs in up to 30% of children.

Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder

  • A child consistently falls asleep very late and wakes up late. Parents have trouble getting their child to fall asleep at a normal bedtime. The child
    tends to be difficult to wake up in the morning, often causing the child to be late for school.
  • Occurs in up to 16% of teens.

Restless legs syndrome

  • A child has unpleasant sensations in their legs and needs to move their legs, most commonly in the evening. Other symptoms include difculty falling asleep, “growing pains,” and symptoms similar to attention-defcit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Occurs in at least 2% of children.

Next Steps:

  • Talk to your child’s doctor about any ongoing sleep problems.
  • The doctor will help fnd and treat any underlying causes of your child’s sleep problem.
  • Your child’s doctor may refer you to a sleep doctor for help.
  • The sleep doctor may schedule your child for a sleep study if your child has symptoms of a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.