SLEEP DISORDER – THE DISEASE OF THE MODERN WORLD
REKA SOLYOM1, DESPINA MARIA BAGHIU2
1University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Tîrgu-Mures, 2Emergency County Hospital of Tîrgu-Mureș
Abstract: Introduction: sleep is a behavioural state of perceptual freedom while being unavailable for
the environment, accompanied by characteristic electroencephalographic changes, having the rapidly
reversible potential to the state of vigilance (Zepelin, 1987). Short and long-term sleep disorders that
are present in childhood may be the cause of many diseases. Aim: the aim of this study was to analyse the international literature and the presentation of the latest information on sleep disorders in children. Material and methods. this study is a compilation of data resulted after the review of the international specialty literature. The used bibliography comprises current studies that have been published recently in international journals. Results: although sleep-related complaints, poor quality and quantity of sleep affect most children, this is still an underdiagnosed problem. Sleep disorders listed previously, under the subtitle classification, can be considered the basis of sleep complaints. The frequency and incidence of each disorder varies according to age. The most common sleep disorder that affects the majority of children of different age groups is the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. The incidence in school children, without pathological manifestation is of 2-3.5%. Discussion and conclusion. sleep disorders present a complex pathology that can have several causes, both in children and adults. After reviewing the specialty literature, we can say that in case of children, this pathology can be detected early and can be prevented properly. Due to the increased frequency, there is a global need for the creation of laboratories to detect sleep disorders.
Cuvinte cheie: tulburări
Rezumat: Introducere: somnul este o stare comportamentală a libertății perceptuale cu indisponibilitate
pentru mediul înconjurător, acompaniat de modificări caracteristice electroencefalografice, având un
potențial rapid reversibil spre starea vigilă (Zepelin, 1987). Tulburările de somn prezente în perioada
copilăriei pe termen scurt și lung pot determina apariția unor boli cronice. Scopul lucrării: scopul acestui studiu a fost de a parcurge literatura de specialitate internațională și de a prezenta cele mai noi informații referitoare la tulburările de somn la copii. Material și metodă: autorii prezintă în această lucrare, datele obținute în urma parcurgerii literaturii de specialitate internațională. Literatura folosită include studii de actualitate și care au fost publicate în reviste de specialitate în perioada 2008-2012. Rezultate: acuzele legate de somn, calitatea și cantitatea necorespunzătoare de somn afectează majoritatea copiilor și totuși este o problemă subdiagnosticată. Din acest motiv devine din ce în ce mai mult centrul atenției în cadrul pediatrilor și a părinților. La baza acuzelor de somn pot sta tulburările de somn care au fost enumerate la clasificare. Frecvența și incidența fiecăruia se schimbă în funcție de vârstă. Cea mai frecventă tulburare de somn care afectează majoritatea copiilor de diferite categorii de vârstă este sindromul de apnee de somn obstructiv. Incidența la copii de vârstă școlară, fără patologie, este de 2-3,5%. Discuții și concluzii: tulburările de somn reprezintă o patologie complexă care poate avea mai multe cauze atât la copii cât și la adulți. În urma parcurgerii literaturii de specialitate putem spune că în cazul copiilor această patologie poate fi depistată precoce și poate fi prevenită în mod corespunzător. Datorită frecvenței tot mai crescute, se necesită la nivel mondial înființarea unor laboratoare de depistare a tulburărilor de somn.
Sleep is a behavioural state of perceptual freedom
Short and long term sleep disorders that are present in
while being unavailable for the environment, accompanied by
childhood may reduce cognitive functions, cause behavioural
characteristic electroencephalographic changes, having the
rapidly reversible potential to the state of vigilance (Zepelin,
cardiovascular risk and the development of diabetes mellitus.
1987). In the Romanian medical dictionary, sleep is defined as a
All these possible consequences highlight the fact that
periodic and reversible physiological state characterized by
the frequency of these sleep abnormalities, risk factors which
somatic inactivity, relative and temporary suppression of
contribute to the emergence of this condition and treatment
consciousness, accompanied by a more or less important
possibilities or options for prevention should be evaluated.
abolition of sensitivity and the inhibition of vegetative functions.
1Corresponding author: Solyom Reka, Str. Făget, Nr. 2/18, Tîrgu-Mures, România, E-mai, Tel: +40740 833878 Article received on 27.02.2013 and accepted for publication on 02.04.2013 ACTA MEDICA TRANSILVANICA June 2013;2(2):305-308
Sleep disorders commonly occurring in childhood
vigilance.(20) These phenomena occur at awakening, partial
signal an evolutionary stage and can be considered
awakening or changing sleep phases and are generally
physiological. Thus, nightmares, sudden awakenings, nocturnal
manifestations of the central nervous system activation
enuresis and sleep disorders due to separation anxiety can occur.
(especially by muscular activity or changes of the vegetative
If these phenomena become constant or occur because of
pathological changes, the consequences of these sleep disorders
are more frequent and vary according to age. In young children,
1. Waking disorders:
they have in common abnormal
the most common signs are hyperactivity, behavioural disorders
awakening and they begin during deep sleep, with slow waves.
and in older children, the symptoms are predominantly similar
They can present the following manifestations:
to those experienced in adulthood, increased drowsiness during
: appear in the first
the day. In the long term, cardiovascular diseases, emotional,
period of the night and are characterized by confusion
behavioural or cognitive disorders can also appear.
during and after waking up from sleep. In addition to these,
The aim of this study was a review of the international
the following symptoms may also appear: disorientation in
literature and the presentation of the latest information on sleep
time and space, slow speech, slow thinking, delayed
responses to commands or questions, memory loss or
This study is a compilation of data resulted after the
behavioural disturbances, which last for a few minutes to
review of the international specialty literature. The used
bibliography comprises current studies that have been published
: are episodes of sudden
awakening accompanied by sensations of terror and panic,
Classification of sleep disorders
shouting, crying, body movements, tachycardia, tachypnea,
The first official classification, also recognized
sweating. Usually, it occurs during the first third of sleep
internationally, was described in 1979 by the Association of
and can last for a couple of minutes. Remembering the
Sleep Disorders Centres, (ASDC).(13) They distinguished 67
diagnoses classified in four large groups, but these diagnoses
: is an altered state of
were based mainly on clinical symptoms, which is why many
consciousness when the phenomena of sleep and
wakefulness are combined. It is characterized by
In 1986, the American Psychiatric Association
involuntary movements and walking in the state of deep
distinguishes for the first time in the Manual for diagnosis and
sleep. During this episode, facial expression is not present,
mental disorders statistics (DSM III) dyssomnia, or disorders of
the eyes are fixed and awakening is difficult, without the
initiating or maintaining sleep from parasomnia, which are
behavioural disorders during sleep. DSM IV classifies primary
2. Disorders of the transition period between the state
sleep disorders (dyssomnia, parasomnia), sleep disorders
of being asleep and awake:
e.g. myoclonus when falling asleep,
associated with other mental disorders (resulting from a
diagnosed mental illness) and sleep disorders due to some
3. Parasomnia associated with REM sleep:
occurs during the REM phase (Rapid Eye Movements) of sleep.
Nowadays, the most widely used and accepted
it is characterized by an
international classification is the one released by the American
intermittent loss of REM phase atonia and the
occurrence of developed motor activities (hitting,
International classification (1997) (2,16):
jumping, running) associated with the dreaming
are primary disorders of initiating or
maintaining sleep or excessive drowsiness, which is
Recurrent isolated sleep paralysis
: consists of a
characterized by a quantitative, qualitative disorder or disturbed
period of inability to perform voluntary
rhythm of sleep.(1) It is assumed that these disturbances appear
movements, which may occur during falling
because of an impairment of the central nervous system
(segment responsible for sleep). This section includes: primary
: they are experiences of dreams
insomnia, primary hypersomnia, narcolepsy, sleep disorders
overloaded with fear, which lead to sudden
correlated with breathing, sleep-wake rhythm disorders.(15) The
awakening with alertness and quick orientation.
term “primary” implies that sleep disorder appears to be
Remembrance is detailed and vivid and dreams
independent of any other known somatic or mental condition.
According to causes, we can distinguish 3 subgroups:
4. Other parasomnias are: e.g. nocturnal enuresis,
Intrinsic causes: e.g. obstructive apnea, central
bruxism, catathrenia, hallucinations, feeding disorders.
apnea, restless leg syndrome or Wittmaack-Ekbom
Sleep disorders due to a medical condition:
syndrome or nocturnal myoclonus, (PLMD =
Psychiatric diseases: e.g. anxiety disorders, mood
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder) involuntary
movements of the upper and lower limbs during
Neurological diseases: e.g. sleep-dependent epilepsy,
sleep (during non-REM stages), narcolepsy, primary
headache, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease,
Other diseases: endocrine (hyper-, hypothyroidism,
insufficient sleep quantity, difficulties with falling
hypo- or hyperadrenocorticism), viral or bacterial
asleep due to some improper habits, feeding at
infections (hypersomnia in case of viral encephalitis),
lung disease (chronic bronchitis), musculoskeletal
Circadian rhythm disorders: e.g. changing time
diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia).
Sleep disorders induced by the consumption of certain
an essential abnormal event occurring
substances like: alcohol, amphetamines and related
either during sleep or on the verge of vigilance and sleep. It
stimulants, caffeine, cocaine, opioids, sedatives,
focuses on disturbances and not on its effects on sleep and
hypnotics, anxiolytics and others (adrenergic agonists
and antagonists of dopamine, acetylcholine and
Although sleep-related complaints, poor quality and
serotonin, antihistamines, corticosteroids).
quantity of sleep affect most children, this is still an
Sleep disorders that are not investigated so far:
underdiagnosed problem. This explains why pediatricians and
sleep disorders due to menstrual periods.
parents become more and more interested in this problem. Sleep
The frequency of complaints and sleep disorders in
disorders listed previously, under the subtitle classification can
be considered the basis of sleep complaints. The frequency and
Different forms of sleep disorders affecting 25% of
incidence of each disorder varies according to age.
children around the world.(22) Temporary physiological
symptoms at a certain age also belong to this category such as
Table no. 2. Complaints and sleep disorders by age groups
awakenings during the night, nightmares, and the most sever
among primary and secondary sleep disorders, the obstructive
Newborns, Young Children
sleep apnea syndrome. The pathology of this disorder recently is
0-1 year 1-3 years school age 6-14 years
more and more often investigated. Some studies based on
questioning parents, show a frequency of sleep disorders in
young children (3-5 years of age) at 25-50% and 4 -10 years of
age 37%.(4,14) Based on a study performed in 14,000
newborns The syndrome of obstructive sleep apnea during
schoolchildren regarding their complaints revealed the presence
of the disorder in 20% (in 5 year old children) and 6% in 11 year
old children.(18) Another study performed in a group of 8 - 10
year old children estimates the presence of symptoms in 43%.(8)
Most studies are performed by questioning parents, which
of the CNS
frequently underestimate the importance and severity of present
complaints. During a self-evaluation, 12% of the teenagers
considered that they have sleep disorders and 40% complained
because of some symptoms of sleep disturbances.(9)
In the United States, the frequency of children who
presented to medical services with sleep disorders was assessed.
Based on the acquired data during one year, in 2930 patients of
pediatric cases, 0.05% were diagnosed with sleep disorders and
0.01% were treated for insomnia (24), data showing that sleep
disorders actually relatively common in children rarely are
diagnosed in health care services, so they are probably
underdiagnosed. There are several studies which describe the
shortening of sleep time in children. In 2004, in the United
States, the children under the age of 10 were assessed at the
The most common sleep disorder that affects the
same time with adults regarding their sleeping habits. The
majority of children of different age groups is the obstructive
results highlighted sleep insufficiency in each age category.
sleep apnea syndrome. The incidence in school-children,
Newborns spent 12.7 hours sleeping instead of 14 -15 hours,
without pathological manifestation is of 2-3.5%.(5) We can
infants 1 - 3 years of age spent 11.7 hours sleeping instead of 12
highlight two peaks of incidence, one is in the age group of 2-8
-14 hours, children 3 - 5 years of age spent 10.4 hours sleeping
years old, in whom the most common cause are adenoid
instead of 11 -12 hours, and children 5 -10 years of age spent on
hypertrophy and tonsillitis. The second peak is identified at the
average 9.5 hours sleeping instead of 10 -11.(22)
age of adolescence and is correlated with obesity. In young
children, there are no differences between genders, but in case
Table no. 1. The frequency of sleep disorders according to
of teenagers, there is an increased frequency in boys.(6)
the type of evaluation
The assessment of sleep disorders can be performed
by various methods. The results depend, among others, on the
definition of sleep disorder, the surveyed person (child or
parent) and age. The number of sleeping hours, however, is a more reliable indicator for detecting complaints.
Children with sleep disorders are more often
hospitalized (6), present most commonly associated diseases
(19), such as cardiovascular alterations, behavioural problems,
poor school results.(3,7,21) These alterations and diseases can be considered as consequences of obstructive sleep apnea
Figure no. 1. Average sleeping hours according to USA
syndrome, because of the impact made on the period of sleep.
Sleep disorders present a complex pathology that can
have several causes, both in children and adults. After reviewing the specialty literature, we can say that in case of children, this pathology can be detected early and can be prevented properly.
Many authors pay more attention to this disease,
because sleep disorders can be the precursor to chronic diseases occurring in childhood. In most studies, clinicians diagnose by using the method of interrogation. Recently questionnaires corroborated with polysomnographic examination can give much valuable information that helps explicitly the pediatrician
to detect the apparition of this pathology. Due to the increased
frequency, there is a global need for the creation of laboratories
20. Roy H Lubit, MD, PhD Assistant Clinical Professor, Mount
Sinai School of Medicine; Clinical Faculty, Department of
Child Psychiatry, New York University School of
This paper is partly supported by the Sectoral
Medicine; Sleep Disorders, Medscape, 2012 May 14.
Operational Programme Human Resources Development (SOP
21. Salorio CF, White DA, Piccirillo J, Duntley SP, Uhles, ML.
HRD), financed from the European Social Fund and by the
Learning, memory, and executive control in individuals
Romanian Government under the contract number POSDRU
with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. J Clin Exp
22. Sheldon H, et al. Pediatric sleep Medicine. USA, Elsevier;
Allen C. Richert, MD, and Alp Sinan Baran, MD, A
23. Thomas F, Anders MD, Lisa A, Eiben MS. Pediatric Sleep
Review of Common Sleep Disorders, NS Spectrums -
Disorders: A Review of the Past 10 Years Journal of the
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 1997: The
International Classification of Sleep Disorders, Revised.
24. Vignan J, et al. Epidemiologic study of sleep quality and
troubles in French secondary school adolescents. J Adolesc
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10. Smith MA, Robinson L, Boose G, Segal R. Sleep Disorders
and Sleeping Problems Symptoms, Treatment & Help for Common Sleep Disorders Last updated: January 2013.
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Neurology, UCLA Medical Centre, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1767, USA. Review of sleep disorders. Med Clin North Am. 2009 Mar;93(2):407-25.
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