Common Childhood Sleep Problems and Disorders Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Background: Sleep insufficiency and disturbances affect the physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being of children. Objective: To perform a narrative review on common sleep problems and disorders encountered in primary care for children and adolescents. Methods: A search of English literature in the Pubmed and Google Scholar databases published from 1 January 2000 till 31 October 2021 was conducted with the keywords “sleep problem” or “sleep disorder” and “child” or “adolescent”. Findings in the relevant articles and cross-references were compiled. Results: Sleep duration and habits of children vary widely across countries with different cultural backgrounds. There is robust evidence to support the promotion of positive bedtime routines and sleep hygiene as prevention and management of sleep problems. 15-70% of parents reported their children having sleep problems or disturbances. Common sleep complaints include difficulty in ini-tiation or maintenance of sleep, abnormal behaviors or movements, snoring or abnormal breathing, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Comprehensive sleep history and a sleep diary are the first steps for evaluation. Home video and actigraphy may be used as preliminary tools to confirm the history. Referrals to a sleep specialist for polysomnography and other tests are needed, if suspecting specific sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea and narcolepsy, needs timely intervention. Common sleep disorders in different age groups encountered in primary care are reviewed with clinical fea-tures, indications for evaluation, and treatment options summarized. Conclusion: Screening for sleep problems shall be an integral part of each child's health care visit. It is important to evaluate the impact of common sleep problems and identify specific sleep disor-ders for early intervention to prevent long-term adverse outcomes.


  • Leung, Theresa Ngan Ho
  • Wong, Kin Lok
  • Chan, Anthony
  • Li, Albert Martin

publication date

  • February 2024