Learn How To Recognize Sleep Disorder Symptoms

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
Medical fact-check: Dr Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Are you worried that your baby, toddler or child may be affected? You can recognize sleep disorder symptoms in your baby or toddler by spotting extreme fatigue, snoring, heavy breathing, bedwetting, etc. and find out how to link those to apnea, night terrors, sleepwalking, narcolepsy and so on. See below for complete sleep disorder evaluation guidelines.

If you have your toddler or baby not sleeping well, it may be 'just' the common so-called behavioral issues like difficulty sleeping through the night, settling and self soothing or one of the common sleep disturbances (reflux, cold, teething, etc.).

But it could also be one of the more disruptive, primary sleep disorders in children, like night terrors, bedwetting (enuresis), sleepwalking or sleeptalking, apnea or narcolepsy.

Sleep disorder symptoms to look out for

If you're worried about your baby, toddler or also older child do the sleep disorder evaluation by checking for the following disorder symptoms:

  • Wakes up screaming shortly after going down

    Baby Sleep Advice blue dot May be night terrors , also called sleep terrors. Babies as young as under one year old may have these too but they are more frequent in toddlers and older children.
  • Sits up, walks or talks, during nap or night: seems awake but is not, is not "seeing"

    Baby Sleep Advice blue dot May be sleepwalking or sleeptalking .
  • Regularly wets the bed after having been dry for several months or having reached the age of 6-8+

    Baby Sleep Advice blue dot May be bedwetting with a physical cause that requires attention.

    Baby Sleep Advice blue dot May be a urinary tract infection, which always requires medical attention.
  • Snores, mouth breathes or has difficulty breathing when sleeping, also when not having a cold
  • Sweats (heavily) when sleeping and/or sleeps restlessly
  • Regularly stops breathing for a moment during the night or a nap

    Baby Sleep Advice blue dot Either of these may be apnea . Check further symptoms and signs and visit a doctor or pediatrician.
  • Is excessively tired during the day, also after a seemingly OK night
  • Has difficulty waking up in the morning at normal times<

    Baby Sleep Advice blue dot May be narcolepsy or apnea . Check further apnea signs and visit a doctor or pediatrician.

Remember that each of these symptoms can also happen from time to time, without any disorder bothering your child . It is when it happens frequently and persists, that it may be necessary to take action.

Refer to the list of sleep disorders for a brief definition of each disorder.

Also if you worry, never hesitate to double check and consult your doctor or health adviser when in doubt.

Article Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD - Founder, senior sleep consultant

Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 15+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.

Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books. Also, Baby Sleep Advice was awarded "Most Trusted Infant's Sleep Solutions Company 2023" in the Benelux Enterprise Awards 2023.

Heidi continually conducts personal research and participates in continued education and in that way stays up to date with current scientific and pyschosocial infant care.

Association of Professional Sleep Consultants

She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.

As well as the award-winning baby sleep programs, Heidi offers popular 1:1 consults and easy-access 30-minute SOS Sleep sessions.