Sleep deprivation – top tips for parents!
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Mandy Gurney
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Former Director of the Sleep Clinic at the NHS St Charles hospital in London and Director of Millpond Sleep clinic. She also works as an NHS Sleep educator to health professionals across the UK.
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Baby Sleeping

Reflux, other medical problems and baby sleep

If you are concerned about your baby's sleep problem, it is worth taking her along to see the doctor to rule out an underlying medical problem.
Video Tutorial
In Short

Medical problems that can effect sleep include:

Reflux or silent reflux.

Adenoids, enlarged tonsils and glue ear.

Autism Spectrum Disorders and Learning Disorders.

Hyperactivity disorders.

Narcolepsy.

If you have any concerns that your child may have a sleep problem with an underlying medical issue, then the best thing to do is go is record videos of your baby or child’s disrupted sleep, keep a sleep diary to show patterns of the problem and take them along to show your child’s doctor.

Medical conditions that can cause sleep problems – see your Doctor
Reflux or silent reflux

Some babies – especially premature babies – have underdeveloped muscles above their stomach (sphincters), which means that acidic stomach contents can leak back up into the feeding tube (oesophagus) and the back of the mouth. This can be painful and more likely to happen in milk feeding babies as they have liquid food. Reflux strikes during sleep after a feed, especially when babies are lying down on their back to sleep. Usually you see the milk coming back up, but not always.

Adenoids, enlarged tonsils and glue ear

Like tonsils in the back of your throat, adenoids help children keep infections in the nose at bay by trapping bacteria and viruses before you breathe them into your lungs or swallow them. Adenoids start to shrink by the time children start school. If your baby or child’s adenoids are very big they can get frequently infected this can really affect your baby or child’s sleep quality. Look out for:

  • A stuffy or squeaky nose, so the child breathes through his mouth
  • Snoring.
  • Lots of waking up.
  • Sleep apnea, where your child stops breathing for a few seconds.
  • Sleepy during the day.

Film your baby or child asleep to show the doctor.

Swollen or big adenoids can also lead to problems with hearing, because they can press on the entrance of the Eustachian tubes (these tubes drain fluid from the middle ear and maintain air pressure in the ear). If the tubes get blocked fluid can build up in the middle ear and cause glue ear. Prolonged glue ear needs to be treated promptly to prevent hearing problems and language delay.

Autism Spectrum Disorders and Learning Disorders

Some children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and learning disorders have associated sleep problems with settling to sleep and lots of night waking. Speak to a specialist for specific help with your child’s sleep problems.

Some children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and learning disorders have associated sleep problems with settling to sleep and lots of night waking. Speak to a specialist for specific help with your child’s sleep problems.

Hyperactivity disorders

Children diagnosed with ADHD or ADD can find it difficult to fall asleep and sleep at night and may display very irregular sleeping patterns. With these children, in particular, it’s very important to have a darkened evening time with no television, devices, blue lights or video games in the two hours before sleep to help promote melatonin production and reduce cortisol release.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a very rare sleep disorder. There is sometimes an underlying auto-immune disease that leads to very disrupted sleep, extreme tiredness in the day and even sudden sleeping.

Sleep diary and videos

If you have any concerns that your child may have a sleep problem with an underlying medical issue, then the best thing to do is go is record videos of your baby or child’s disrupted sleep, keep a sleep diary to show patterns of the problem and take them along to show your child’s doctor.

References and further reading

References

Teach Your Child To Sleep, Millpond / Hamlyn, Revised 2016.

Sleep Faring, Jim Horne / Oxford, 2006.

.

Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep, Judy Owens and Jodi Mindell / Marlowe and Co, 2005.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Children, Dr Marc Weissbluth / Vermilion, 2010.

Sleeping Better, A Guide to Improving Sleep for Children with Special Needs V Mark Durand / Brookes Revised Edition 2014.

Outcomes at six years of age for children with infant sleep problems:

Longitudinal community-based study Anna M.H. Price, Melissa Wake, Harriet Hiscock et al, Sleep Medicine 13 (2012) 991–998

Short Nighttime Sleep Duration and Hyperactivity Trajectories in Early Childhood,Tourchette et al. Pediatrics. 2009.

Sleep and Depression in Postpartum Women: A Population-Based Study; Dorheim SK et al, Sleep 2009; 32(7): 847-855.

Fragmented maternal sleep is more strongly correlated with depressive symptoms than infant temperament at three months postpartum. Goyal D, Gay C, Lee K, authors Arch Women’s Ment Health. 2009;12:229–37.

Sleep problems in young infants and maternal mental and physical health, Jordana K Bayer, Harriet Hiscock, Anne Hampton and Melissa Wake, Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, vol 43, issue 1-2, January/February 2007.

Longitudinal analysis of sleep in relation to BMI and body fat in children: the FLAME study. BMJ 2011

Short sleep duration is associated with increased markers in European adolescents

International journal of Obesity (2011) 35, 1308-1317 M Garaulet et al.

Sleep and the epidemic of obesity in children and adults; E Van Cauter & K Knutson, 2008.

The use of MElatonin in children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders and impaired Sleep: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel study (MENDS),Re Appleton, AP Jones, C Gamble, PR Williamson, L Wiggs, P Montgomery, A Sutcliffe, C Barker and P Gringras. Health Technology Assessment 2012; Vol. 16: No. 40 DOI: 10.3310/hta16400

Kids’ behavior impacted by lack of sleep, Jase Donaldson, Insight Journal, Feb 13 2006.

What affects the age of first sleeping through the night? S M Adams, D R Jones, A Esmail and E A Mitchell, Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, vol 40, issue 3, March 2004.

Behavioral Treatment of Bedtime Problems and Night Wakings in Infants and Young Children; An American Academy of Sleep Medicine Review, Jodi A. Mindell, et al SLEEP, Vol. 29, No. 10, 2006

References are reviewed on a regular basis and are updated when applicable.

Sleep Training NHS staff since 2007
If you or your colleagues want to know more about children’s sleep and how you can help the families you are working with, Millpond Sleep Clinic run one-day Sleep Workshops aimed at health care professionals.
These highly engaging sessions are based on proven research and years of experience and are suitable for all staff working directly with the families of babies through to school aged children.
The workshop is fully certified and approved by The CPD Certification Service.
If you would like to find out more about the sleep workshops please contact Millpond direct on:
Tel: 020 8444 0040

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DISCLAIMER
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.