Stories about: Sleep disorders

Does your child have narcolepsy?

Teenager with his head down is sleeping in class, possibly with narcolepsy.

Teens are a notoriously sleepy bunch. Left to their own devices, many will happily snooze into the early hours of the afternoon. About 28 percent of teens also report falling asleep in school at least once a week, according to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation. This can make it difficult for parents to know when a teenager’s love affair with sleep might be the sign of narcolepsy or another sleep disorder.

While narcolepsy is a rare condition, affecting only about .05 percent of the U.S. population, it often goes undiagnosed. It is a condition that typically develops between ages 10 and 20.

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Sleepy teen finds relief in narcolepsy diagnosis

For as long as Maeve Sheehy can remember, she’s had short spells of feeling like she was about to fall over.

“It wasn’t like feeling faint, it was more like my knees would buckle underneath me,” says Maeve, now 16. “I would instinctually try to keep from falling by bracing myself.”

Sometimes the bracing didn’t work and Maeve would topple over. If she was with friends, she’d pretend she had tripped, to cover it up. But she secretly worried something was wrong with her. When she tried to explain the falling feeling to her parents and doctors, she was told she was probably dehydrated.

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Behavioral issues in children could be linked to snoring

If you’ve ever lived with a person who snores, you know the noise can be enough to keep you up at night. It’s an annoyance for sure, but new research shows that when young children snore it could lead to more serious behavioral and emotional problems.

A new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, shows that young children who have sleep-disordered breathing (snoring or other breathing issues during sleep) could be more likely to develop conditions like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or anxiety by the time they’re seven years old. The study followed 13,000 children, from infancy to the age of 7, and found that those who snored or had some form of breathing problem while asleep were far more likely to develop behavioral or emotion problems than children who had no breathing issues while asleep.

So how are the two related? The answer is going to be different for each child, but it often comes down to how a child’s nighttime breathing affects his rest.

“When you have sleep-disordered breathing, you wake up momentarily when your breathing drops,” says Sanjeev Kothare, MD, interim medical director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital Boston. “So if a child is waking up 50 times a night he’s not getting the proper amount of rest, and that could manifest itself in hyperactivity or other behavioral problems.”

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Sleep deprivation in teens: risky business?

Like toothpaste and orange juice, teenagers and 6 a.m. usually make for a bad morning combination. Between the threats of missed buses to the walking dead shuffle from the bedroom to the bathroom, mornings can seem like a nightmare for many households with teens. But with so many sleep-deprived teenagers staying awake until all hours of the night, this dreaded morning ritual comes as no surprise to most parents.

If your teenager is constantly staying up too late and is hard to mobilize in the morning, at least you’re not alone. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control indicates that two third of American teens aren’t getting enough sleep. This may not surprise many parents, but the study’s real take home message is that researchers are now linking sleep deprivation to something far more troubling than morning crankiness: Teens who get less than eight hours of sleep a night may be more likely to drink, use drugs, indulge in inappropriate sexual behavior, be depressed and lead an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle.

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