Restlessness: Children move a lot - often even while sleeping

Restless Legs Syndrome disrupts children's sleep
Millions of Germans suffer from sleep disorders. In some cases, diseases can be the reason why the little ones do not come to rest at night - for example, the so-called Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).

When the legs move in their sleep
Children move a lot, this is also the case during sleep and is fundamentally nothing unusual. However, there are also diseases, such as Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), in which restful night sleep is disturbed by the movement of the legs. This is reported by the Working Group of the Scientific Medical Societies in a communication published by the Science Information Service (idw).

Restless legs syndrome in children
Restless Legs Syndrome can affect people of all ages.

“This disease also occurs in children, but is often not recognized. The symptoms can only be recognized more quickly if the restlessness prevents them from falling asleep, ”said Barbara Schneider, senior physician at the Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at the St. Marien Children's Hospital in Landshut.

"Often, however, it is the sensations that the children report and not the urge to move that is disruptive for them," said the expert.

This is usually misinterpreted as "growth pain". A study is trying to find out how often RLS symptoms are found in children by surveying primary school children.

First results will be presented at the 25th annual conference of the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM) from 9th to 11th November 2017 presented in Münster.

Illness cannot be cured
According to health experts, RLS cannot be cured. Treatment often focuses on improving sleep quality.

Sometimes medication is used here. But natural measures can also help improve sleep hygiene.

In addition to light sports, relaxation techniques such as autogenic training, yoga, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation are also available.

Some people also rely on Chinese therapy for restless legs.

Parasomnias in childhood
Unwanted activations of the nervous system that occur during sleep are called parasomnias. These can take place consciously or unconsciously. These include night terrors, sleepwalking and nightmares.

According to the AWMF communication, these parasomnias occur frequently in childhood and mostly have no organic cause.

"One difficulty with the occurrence of parasomnias is to be able to differentiate between epileptic seizures, which can only occur sleep-related in childhood and sometimes give a similar picture," explained Schneider.

Parents are equally affected by their children's sleep disorders. On the other hand, parents can work to prevent their children's sleep disorders.

"It is important to understand that parents have the main influence on their children's ability to regulate," says the pediatrician.

Predisposition to sleep disorders
Good parenting is particularly important if you want to prevent young children from not sleeping.

However, the latest findings from genetics also suggest that in some families there is a predisposition to sleep disorders that can continue into adulthood.

Our environment and the changing challenges of our modern society are the second factor that plays a crucial role.

How much the new digital world with all its possibilities affects our sleep-wake rhythm, and how we manage not to neglect sleep in a healthy way, is also the subject of current research.

Basic human need
The DGSM, which has set itself the task of investigating and improving the prevention, diagnostics and therapy of sleep disorders, calls for a different awareness of what it considers to be the underestimated human need for sleep.

And rightly so. Because sleep disorders can not only result in fatigue, headaches and poor concentration, but also serious health problems.

According to health experts, sleep disorders increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, mental illnesses such as depression and the weakening of the immune system.

Furthermore, a scientific study by the University of Duisburg-Essen showed that sleep disorders can also increase the risk of stroke.

Those affected should urgently do something about it.

Tips for a better sleep
Some simple tips can help you to get a good night's sleep.

A healthy lifestyle and the absence of late meals, coffee, nicotine, alcohol and intensive sports in the evening are conducive to a restful sleep.

It is also helpful to observe regular sleeping times and to reduce your weight in the event of being overweight. Sleeping pills or sedatives are usually not recommended, but various home remedies for sleep disorders are useful.

A calming tea made from passion flower or chamomile, for example, has proven its worth to relieve tension. Relaxation techniques to reduce stress can also be effective. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Restless Legs Syndrome and Sleep - Diagnosis and Treatments (October 2021).