Sleep Difficulties in Children

The majority of children and adolescents experience sleep problems at some time. There are a variety of sleep issues and a more thorough evaluation can be done by Tashawna K. Duncan, Ph.D., P.A.

What are the different types of sleep disorders?


  • Repeated occurrence of frightening dreams that lead to awakening from sleep
  • Dreams are often remembered
  • Relatively common; about 10% of children are affected
  • Onset usually occurs between ages three and six
  • Children tend to outgrow this problem


  • Repeated episodes of rising from bed during sleep and walking about
  • No memory of the episode
  • About 10-30% of children have at least one episode; actual disorder prevalence much lower
  • Peaks at age 12 but often stops by late teens

Night terrors

  • Recurrent episodes of abrupt awakening from sleep accompanied by screaming and crying
  • Experience of intense physiological arousal and fear
  • Very limited or no memory of episode
  • Rare occurrence and is more prevalent in males and older children
  • Onset usually occurs between ages four and 12 but usually stops in adolescence

Treatments for sleep difficulties

  • Establish a bedtime routine (i.e., reading a bedtime story, singing a lullaby)
  • Help reduce your child’s anxiety since anxiety is often the trigger for sleep difficulties
  • Keep your child active during the day
  • Ignore your child’s attempts to get out of bed
  • Consult your pediatrician
  • Psychotherapy/Counseling by Tashawna K. Duncan, Ph.D., P.A.