Good sleep is not just about the quantity of sleep a child gets, but also the quality. Now, doctors have identified a sleep disorder that affects kids at night and during the day.
It’s called Restless Sleep Disorder, or RSD, and 9-year-old Emily Caveness is one of those affected.
“I used to wake up like every couple of hours,” she said.
“She would be at the bottom of her bed or have fallen out of the bed or her covers were all over the place,” said Melissa Caveness, Emily’s mom.
Melissa tried everything to help her daughter get quality sleep, but nothing worked – until she saw a sleep specialist who diagnosed Emily with RSD.
“A newly identified pediatric sleep disorder that consists of frequent movements through the night once the child has fallen asleep,” explained Lourdes DelRosso, M.D., with the University of Washington School of Medicine.
The disorder can also lead to daytime symptoms.
“Such as daytime sleepiness or sometimes inattention, hyperactivity, maybe some school or behavioral problems,” DelRosso said.
Researchers found that kids with RSD had very low iron levels.
“Iron is a very important cofactor in the production of a neurotransmitter called dopamine,” DelRosso said.
Emily got an infusion of iron intravenously and took iron supplements for three months to treat her RSD.
“She was sleeping through the night better. She wasn’t all over the bed,” said Andrew Caveness, her dad.
Emily’s mood changed, too.
“Less cranky and less tired,” she described.
“Her relationships with her sisters I think have all improved because of better sleep,” Andrew said.
Emily gets tested every three to six months to check her iron and ferritin levels. DelRosso said some kids with RSD who have mildly low iron levels can add iron-rich foods, like spinach, liver, and iron-enriched cereal, to their diets.
Check with your child’s doctor before deciding to give your child iron supplements.