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Sleep Issues in Children and Chronic Illness: Risk?

sleep issues in children
Sweet dreams for better health? New study suggests sleep disorders in chronically ill children

Could Sleep Issues in Children
Be Leading to More Hospital Visits?

Many parents know the frustration of sleep issues in children. But for children with chronic medical conditions, sleep problems can be more than just a nuisance – they may be linked to increased healthcare utilization, according to a new study.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the research suggests that children with chronic illnesses and sleep disorders are nearly twice as likely to have frequent hospital visits or emergency room trips compared to those without sleep issues.

“These findings indicate the need for careful evaluation and management of sleep disorders in this high-risk cohort,” said Dr. Pranshu A. Adavadkar, lead author of the study and a physician at the University of Illinois Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

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The Connection Between Sleep and Chronic Illness

Children with chronic health conditions, like asthma, diabetes, or ADHD, already face a higher burden of healthcare needs. The study highlights how sleep disorders can worsen these underlying conditions, potentially leading to more complications and a greater reliance on medical care.

For example, children with asthma may experience sleep disruptions due to breathing difficulties, while those with ADHD might struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep. In turn, poor sleep quality can exacerbate symptoms of both conditions.

Types of Sleep Disorders and Increased Healthcare Use

The study examined the link between specific sleep disorders and healthcare utilization. While all sleep disorders increased the risk of needing more medical care, some had a stronger association:

  • Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB): This condition, which includes snoring and pauses in breathing during sleep, was linked to an increase in the risk of being in the high healthcare utilization group.
  • Insomnia: Difficulty falling or staying asleep was linked to an increased risk.
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorder: This condition disrupts the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and was associated with a whopping increased risk of needing more medical attention.

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Importance of Early Intervention

The good news is that sleep disorders are often treatable. By addressing sleep issues early on, parents may be able to help their children manage their chronic conditions more effectively and potentially reduce the need for frequent healthcare interventions.

sleep issues in children
Sweet dreams for better health? New study suggests sleep disorders in chronically ill children

Here are some tips for promoting healthy sleep in children with chronic medical conditions:

  • Develop a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine: This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music.
  • Make sure the sleep environment is dark, quiet, and cool.
  • Limit screen time before bed. The blue light emitted from electronic devices can interfere with sleep.
  • Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about your child’s sleep. They can help diagnose any underlying sleep disorders and recommend treatment options.

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Parents can play a vital role in improving sleep issues in children, overall health and well-being by prioritizing healthy sleep habits.

Additional Resources:

  1. CHC – Chronic Health Condition
  2. SDB – Sleep-Disordered Breathing
  3. ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  4. OSA – Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  5. HU – Healthcare Utilization
  6. EM – Emergency Medicine (could be used instead of ED – Emergency Department)
  7. REM – Rapid Eye Movement (might be relevant depending on the specific sleep disorder)
  8. ** polysomnography** (abbreviated PSG) – Sleep study used to diagnose sleep disorders
  9. NREM – Non-rapid Eye Movement (might be relevant depending on the specific sleep disorder)
  10. ** polysomnogram** (abbreviated EEG) – Electroencephalogram (part of a PSG)

Disclaimer: This article provides a starting point for parents and caregivers. Remember, it’s crucial to consult with your child’s doctor to discuss any sleep concerns and develop a personalized plan to ensure they get the rest they need.

Written by Dr. Evelyn Karen

Dr. Evelyn Karen is a highly regarded Internal Medicine Physician with over 20 years of experience in Manila. Dr. Karen is passionate about patient well-being and champions innovative practices, including integrative medicine, telemedicine, and community outreach.

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