RSD: New Sleep Disorder in Kids


SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Good sleep is not just about the quantity of sleep a child gets, but also the quality. Now doctors have identified a new sleep disorder in kids. It not only affects them at night, but also during the day. More about restless sleep disorder, or RSD, and how kids can get a good night’s rest.

Jumping … roller blading … Nine-year-old Emily Caveness is very active during the day … and at night.

“I use to wake up like every couple of hours,” Emily shared.

Emily’s mom Melissa Caveness recalled, “She would be at the bottom of her bed or have fallen out of the bed or her covers were all over the place.”

Melissa tried everything to help her daughter get quality sleep, but nothing worked. Until she saw a sleep specialist who diagnosed Emily with restless sleep disorder, or RSD.

“A newly identified pediatric sleep disorder that consists of frequent movements through the night once the child has fallen asleep,” explained Lourdes DelRosso, MD, associate professor of pediatrics in the division of pulmonary and sleep medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Seattle Childrens Hospital.

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This disorder can also lead to daytime symptoms.

“Such as daytime sleepiness or sometimes inattention, hyperactivity, maybe some school or behavioral problems,” described Dr. DelRosso.

Researchers found kids with RSD had very low iron levels.

“Iron is a very important cofactor in the production of a neurotransmitter called dopamine,” added Dr. DelRosso.

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,” recalled Emily’s dad, Andrew Caveness.

Her mood changed, too.

“Less cranky and less tired,” Emily shared.

“Her relationships with her sisters I think have all improved because of better sleep,” Andrew noted.

Proving a good night’s rest is not only great for the body, but also the mind.

Emily gets tested every three to six months to check her iron and ferritin levels. Dr. DelRosso says some kids with RSD with mildly low iron levels can add iron-rich foods, such as spinach, liver, and iron-enriched cereal to their diets. Check with your child’s doctor before deciding to give your child iron supplements.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy Mcgrath, Executive Producer; Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: Recent health reports suggest that many children in the U.S. are chronically sleep deprived. In a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll, researchers found that more than two out of every three children ages 10 and under have experienced some type of sleep problem. Other studies have linked poor sleep in children with bad grades in classes such as math, reading, and writing. In addition, some studies show that sleep disturbed children have more depressive symptoms and anxiety disorders. A group of international sleep researchers have confirmed a new sleep disorder in children called Restless Sleep Disorder or RSD. Using sleep studies and other advanced technology, the team was able to understand that children with RSD were moving a lot more than their counterparts. The movements occurred through the night and were associated with other findings of sleep disruption.

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SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES OF SLEEP DISORDERS: In almost every stage of a child’s development, their changing body and mind could be causing them to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. They could be experiencing separation anxiety and want to be with you during the night, they may be learning words and wake with a mind racing, or even having the urge to stretch their arms and legs could keep them up at night. Other sleep disruptions can be caused by a particularly exciting or exhausting day that leaves the child too jittery to sleep soundly. Food and drinks with caffeine may make it hard for your child to get to sleep or stay asleep, and even new surroundings or changes to routine can be disruptive. Some sleep disruptions are caused by illness, allergies, or conditions like sleep apnea, night terrors, sleepwalking, or restless leg syndrome.


THE FUTURE OF SLEEP STUDIES: According to Charlene Gamaldo, MD, medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital, the future of sleep research looks very different. “Sleep clinical care and research is in a revolutionary place because of technology,” says Gamaldo. “The brick-and-mortar model of conducting sleep studies in a medical care center is really going to be fading or will be minimal at best.” New approaches to testing are likely to take place in the comfort of your own home. “Many of the portable devices currently available show a lot of promise with producing information that is in line with what we see in the lab,” she says. Researchers also want to study how lack of sleep and poor quality sleep impacts other conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.





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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Lourdes DelRosso, MD, associate professor of pediatrics in the division of pulmonary and sleep medicine

Read the entire Q&A