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Quick Facts on Sleep-Wake Disorders

A brief overview of the signs and symptoms of sleep-wake disorders, and how they're treated in children and adolescents.

en Español


Every parent knows the importance of a good night’s sleep to a child’s behavior and well-being. While most kids experience the occasional bad night, some are affected by disorders that routinely disturb their sleep and daily functioning. Sleep-wake disorders is an umbrella term for more than a dozen specific conditions that impair the quality or quantity of sleep a child gets enough to undermine her overall health and functioning. The most common of these disorders in children and adolescents is insomnia, difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep.


  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Fitful, interrupted sleep
  • Teeth grinding during sleep
  • Bed-wetting
  • Recurrent nightmares
  • Difficulty breathing while asleep
  • Oversleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Dozing off mid-task
  • Trouble focusing, especially during school assignments.
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings

Treatment for Sleep-Wake Disorders

Treatment for sleep-wake disorders may include psychotherapy, medication or both. Talk therapy can help a child understand why he or she may have difficulties involving sleep, and cognitive behavior therapy can help adjust certain habits, such as teeth grinding, associated with sleep-wake disorders. A range of pharmacological options are also available to help treat the wide variety of conditions found within sleep-wake disorders.

This article was last reviewed or updated on October 30, 2023.