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Sleep Disorders

Sleep Problem in Adolescent Boy

04/30/2009

Question:

My son is 13 and complains of being tired frequently. He does sleep talk and complains about not being able to stay asleep. Overall, he is an active kid who also does well in school. We have tried the tips for good sleeping with no success.

Answer:

There are several historical questions that need to be answered about this young man before considering what to do.

1. Need to know if he has a history of snoring, painful legs at night or jittery legs during the daytime that might suggest restless leg syndrome. Is there a family history of sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome?

2. Is your son overweight? Has he gained excessive weight within the past year?

3. When did the sleep problems begin? Does anything seem to make them worse or better? Has he had new feelings of anxiety or sadness?

4. Does he sleep better on school nights, weekends or summer when there is no school?

5. Have there been any changes in his personality, new stresses or behaviors?

6. How much caffeine he drinks during the day and when?

7. Does he exercise pr use the computer a lot after 6pm? What time does he go to bed, actually fall asleep and usually awaken for the last time in the morning.

13 yrs olds who complain of being tired frequently are not getting adequate sleep. It is important to know if he has rapid sleep onset and then what seems to wake him up at night and when. I would suggest you talk with your child’s family doctor or pediatrician for a complete history and examination. Referral to a specialist may be indicated depending on the answers to the above questions and the examination.

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Response by:

Mark   Splaingard, MD Mark Splaingard, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University