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Sleep Disorders

Hard Sleeper

11/24/2009

Question:

My son is 11. He goes to bed early. He goes to sleep quick, but can`t wake in the middle of the night or in the moring. Tried alarms, but still have to help him get up, which is very hard also. What can we try? 

Answer:

This is a common problem. There are several possibilities that could explain your son’s sleep issues and these range from normal sleep behaviors to a primary sleep disorder to other non-sleep related conditions. Further information will be required in order to determine if any testing or treatment is needed. Listed below are some of the questions that are important in trying to determine if your child has a problem and what the solution might be.

1) What is the approximate time your child generally falls asleep at night whether there are any nighttime awakenings or not? What is the time the child finally wakes up in the morning? What happens to his nighttime awakenings and awakening time when your child has an earlier bedtime?

2) Does your child take any naps during the daytime? Is he falling asleep at school, seem tired or have any daytime symptoms? Does he receive of caffeine during the day through colas or other beverages? Does your child seem to be otherwise normal during the daytime once he wakes up? How is his performance in school?

3) Does your son snore or have periods where he stops breathing during the night? Does he have any unusual movements at night, reports painful legs in the evening, sleep walk or wet his bed?

4) Does he have any other medical conditions or any other symptoms of illness such as loss of weight, headaches, coughing at night, unusual bowel or bladder habits? Has he ever been knocked unconscious or had mononucleosis?

5) Is there a family history of people that are long sleepers (more than 10 hours at night)?

11 yr olds will typically sleep on average about 9 hrs at night; however there is range from about 8 -11 hours at night that is still considered normal for children in this age group.

I suggest you discuss your child’s difficulty with morning awakenings with your family physician or pediatrician to determine if further investigation or a specific treatment is warranted. Referral to a Pediatric Sleep Specialist may be needed, depending on the answers to the questions above as well as a physical examination.

For more information:

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Response by:

Mark   Splaingard, MD Mark Splaingard, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University