Sleep is essential!
Sleep is an integral component of health, wellbeing and quality of life.
Up to 90% of children with complex neurodevelopmental conditions suffer from sleep problems classified as circadian rhythm sleep disorders (CRSD). These affect initiation and maintenance of sleep, generally categorized as insomnia.
CRSD's are characterized as a misalignment between the patient's sleep pattern and what is desired or regarded as the societal norm; typically, these impact the patient's, and his/her caregiver's, daily life. Although consensus and best practice guidelines recognize sleep problems as an important comorbidity in children with complex chronic conditions, the recognition of sleep problems and their treatment is a major challenge in clinical practice. This is mainly due to a lack of knowledge about these conditions and limited diagnostic capacities, or unfamiliarity about treatable sleep problems among health care providers and caregivers. Still many people think that the symptoms of sleep problems are "just part of the underlying condition". As a result, there is a missed opportunity to direct social and medical resources towards improving sleep and overall health.
Our goal is to reduce needless suffering caused by sleep problems and improve the overall health of children with neurodevelopmental conditions and sleep problems.
Our clinical experience has made it clear that missed sleep problems place a tremendous burden on both the patient and their family. Neglected or undiagnosed sleep problems can aggravate already existing health and behavioural challenges, consume emotional resources, lead to breakdowns within the families, and cause increased and inappropriate use of various health services and drug-based medical treatments. In other words, missed sleep problems lead to crises.
Sleep, a new frontier for treatment
Interventions for children with neurodevelopmental conditions mostly rely on rehabilitative treatments and on drug-based therapies using antipsychotics, antidepressants and psychostimulants. These treatments can be beneficial, although the results are inconsistent. Some of the reasons for this inconsistency is the complex and multifactorial nature of behavioural presentation of neurodevelopmental conditions, the age of patients, unexpected and/or harmful drug reactions, and the individual biology of the patient.
Because of the essential role of sleep in cerebral functioning, and the huge impact that sleep problems have on overall health and wellbeing, recognizing and appropriately treating sleep problems has enormous potential to improve health outcomes and future wellbeing. In short, sleep problems can affect social-behavioural, communication, physical, and emotional skills. Imagine what a good night's sleep can do! Advocate for sleep! Advocate for getting your sleep problems assessed!
Better Nights, Better Days, Less or No Medications!
Why Neurodevelopmental Conditions?
Children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental conditions are at high-risk for developing sleep problems triggering challenging/disruptive daytime behaviours and/or comorbidities such as inattention, hyperactivity and cognitive and emotional impairments.
While daytime morbidities are easily recognized and treated with various psychotropic (e.g., stimulant) medications, clinical experience shows that underlying sleep problems may remain masked and appropriate treatment missed. In addition, nighttime hyperactivity of some children with neurodevelopmental conditions and sleep problems might worsen upon treatment with psychotropic medications.
Our clinical experience reveals that missed sleep problems place a tremendous burden on both the patient and their family. Neglected or undiagnosed sleep problems can aggravate already existing health and behavioural challenges, consume emotional resources, lead to breakdowns within the families, and cause increased and inappropriate use of various health services and drug-based medical treatments.
In other words, missed sleep problems lead to crises.