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Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Children and Teens (cont.)

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Narcolepsy symptoms in children

Narcolepsy is more common in adults than children. It has been defined as "a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. Narcolepsy is a chronic condition for which there is no cure." Research has shown that narcolepsy is not a type of seizure, fainting episode, or psychological illness. Symptoms of narcolepsy include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness: affected individuals have an uncontrollable need to sleep during the day;
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone (Cataplexy): this may range from slurred speech to total collapse of all voluntary muscles. Emotional stimulation (often positive by nature, for example, laughter) may trigger such an attack;
  • Sleep paralysis: Characterized by a temporary (1-2 minutes) period of the inability to speak or move when falling asleep or waking;
  • Vivid or frightening hallucinations which occur most commonly during REM (dreaming) sleep.

Sleepwalking symptoms in children

The onset of sleepwalking (somnambulism) typically presents in prepubertal children most frequently at age 11 to 12, and occurs more often in boys than girls. The overall incidence of sleepwalking is approximately 18%. Like night terrors, the individual is difficult to arouse during the event and does not remember the experience. Sleepwalking most commonly occurs during the first third of the sleep cycle. Some sleepwalkers may also mumble during sleepwalking episodes and occasionally obscene words may be uttered. Medications are rarely necessary to manage sleepwalking episodes. Ensuring a safe environment (protection against falls or walking out of the house) and maintenance of good sleep habits (avoiding sleep deprivation) are important considerations to prevent sleepwalking.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/8/2016


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