Unfortunately, sleep disorders can plague infants as well as adults.
There are many types of infant sleep disorders, however a physician is often the only person who can properly diagnose them.
Infants have irregular sleep patterns because of their need to frequently eat. There are some sleep disorders that are learned behavior instead of a legitimate disease. These types of sleep disorders can be overcome without medication by changing the child's environment and gently teaching them to improve their sleep habits.
As a child gets older, they go through a period of having nightmares. Sleep terrors or night terrors are other forms of sleep disorders. The child usually outgrows these forms of sleep disorders.
Infant sleep apnea is defined as an infant who stops breathing for short periods of time in their sleep. This type of sleep disorder is diagnosed most in premature babies. In fact, it is a proven fact that a premature baby is more likely to have sleep apnea than a baby that is born at full term.
Usually, all that is needed is to rub the baby's back or nudge them and they will start breathing on their own again. In rare cases, infant CPR is needed to revive the baby.
Bringing home an infant who suffers from sleep apnea is a very scary time in any parent's life. The fear of their child stopping breathing in the middle of the night can cause any parent to sit up all night beside the crib.
Before any hospital releases a baby who has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, the parent or parents are required to go through an infant CPR course.
When the baby is released, it is usually with a piece of machinery called an apnea monitor. This type of monitor is attached to the baby's chest with electrodes that monitor the baby's breathing. The monitor is adjusted to each baby and will only sound if it detects abnormal breathing patterns.
If the baby's breathing is too shallow or stops altogether, the monitor will sound a loud high-pitched alarm to alert you of the danger.
For anyone who has experienced this sound, especially in the middle of the night, it can be a heart stopping experience.
The baby needs to be attached to the monitor all of the time he or she is sleeping. During waking hours, it is not necessary to use the monitor.
Medical personnel will go to your home and take readings from the monitor to make sure that it is working properly and also that it is being used properly. They will then forward a report to your baby's pediatrician for him or her to monitor.
Only your baby's pediatrician can determine when the monitor is no longer necessary. He or she will discuss with you the progress of your baby before any decisions are finalized.
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