School students prescribed sleeping medicine - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

School students prescribed sleeping medicine

The transition from the lazy days of summer to the early school mornings can be a big adjustment and an important one.

Sleep can impact everything from behavior to grades. And now new research suggests more and more children are having trouble sleeping and more often than not, treatment comes in the form of a prescription.

Helen Chickering reports.

The back to school bedtime alarm is ringing. If the youngsters in your house are still awake - you're in good company.

Dr. Milap C. Nahata is a sleep researcher.

He said, "sleep difficulties do occur in children frequently."

Difficulties that can often be treated with behavior therapy, like a more structured bedtime routine. But are too often treated with a pill according to new research out of Ohio State University.

Dr. Nahata said, "none of the medications have been specifically labeled or approved by the FDA for this use so we need to monitor closely."

Sleep experts note that everything from a change in bedtime routine to issues like obesity can impact the quality of sleep in children. Complicating the picture - sleep problems in youngsters aren't always easy to spot.

Parents need to play detective night and day advises Duke University's Dr. Adele Evans.

Dr. Evans said, "some children are actually hyperactive - where they know that they are tired but in order to stay awake they will stimulate themselves or others around them."

So that's where pulling pigtails and throwing paper planes often interrupts in the class room."

Five-year-old Elijah wasn't throwing airplanes. He was snoring.

Dr. Evans continues,"so there is your typical snoring which just goes snnnnnn. And then there is your obstructive, sputtering snoring where they go snortsnort."

That's a symptom of apnea, which is one the most common childhood sleep disorders..

School age children need ten to eleven hours of sleep every night. Teens need slightly less- according to the Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Sleeping problems have been linked as a risk factor for attention deficit disorder even bed wetting in older children.

Sleep medicine experts encourage parents who suspect that their child might be suffering from a sleep disorder to consult with their child's pediatrician or a sleep specialist.

Ohio State University Researchers note that many of the drugs used to treat pediatric sleep disorders have not been studied for effectiveness in children.

 

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