Sleep disorders and sleep problems in childhood.
Sleep problems are common in childhood. A distinction is made between problems in which polysomnography is abnormal (i.e., the parasomnias, sleep apnea and narcolepsy) and problems that are behavioral in origin and have normal polysomnography. The parasomnias--sleep terrors, somnambulism and enuresis--appear to be related to central nervous system immaturity and are often outgrown. Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is frequently missed in children and can often be cured through surgery. Behavioral sleep problems may be overcome after parents make interventions. Physicians can be of great assistance to these families by recommending techniques to parents that have been shown to be effective. (+info)
Is there a dissociative process in sleepwalking and night terrors?
The enduring and contentious hypothesis that sleepwalking and night terrors are symptomatic of a protective dissociative mechanism is examined. This is mobilised when intolerable impulses, feelings and memories escape, within sleep, the diminished control of mental defence mechanisms. They then erupt but in a limited motoric or affective form with restricted awareness and subsequent amnesia for the event. It has also been suggested that such processes are more likely when the patient has a history of major psychological trauma. In a group of 22 adult patients, referred to a tertiary sleep disorders service with possible sleepwalking/night terrors, diagnosis was confirmed both clinically and polysomnographically, and only six patients had a history of such trauma. More commonly these described sleepwalking/night terrors are associated with vivid dream-like experiences or behaviour related to flight from attack. Two such cases, suggestive of a dissociative process, are described in more detail. The results of this study are presented largely on account of the negative findings. Scores on the dissociation questionnaire (DIS-Q) were normal, although generally higher in the small "trauma" subgroup. These were similar to scores characterising individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder. This "trauma" group also scored particularly highly on the anxiety, phobic, and depression scales of the Crown-Crisp experiential index. In contrast the "no trauma" group scored more specifically highly on the anxiety scale, along with major trends to high depression and hysteria scale scores. Two cases are presented which illustrate exceptional occurrence of later onset of sleepwalking/night terrors with accompanying post-traumatic symptoms during wakefulness. It is concluded that a history of major psychological trauma exists in only a minority of adult patients presenting with sleepwalking/night terror syndrome. In this subgroup trauma appears to dictate the subsequent content of the attacks. However, the symptoms express themselves within the form of the sleepwalking/night terror syndrome rather than as rapid eye movement sleep related nightmares. The main group of subjects with the syndrome and with no history of major psychological trauma show no clinical or DIS-Q evidence of dissociation during wakefulness. The proposition that, within the character structure of this group, the mechanism still operates but exclusively within sleep remains a possibility. (+info)
Brief report: a "storybook" ending to children's bedtime problems--the use of a rewarding social story to reduce bedtime resistance and frequent night waking.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy and acceptability of a social story with tangible rewards to reduce children's disruptive bedtime behavior and frequent night waking. METHOD: Four children (ages 2 to 7), with clinically significant disruptive bedtime behavior, received the intervention, which consisted of a social story (The Sleep Fairy) that sets forth (a) parental expectations for appropriate bedtime behavior and (b) rewards for meeting those expectations. RESULTS: Parent sleep diaries indicated that children had a 78% average decrease in frequency of disruptive bedtime behaviors from baseline to intervention, with another 7% decrease at 3-month follow-up. Night wakings, a problem for 2 children during baseline, were not a problem during intervention and follow-up. Parents reported improved daytime behavior for 3 of the 4 children. Parents gave the intervention high acceptability ratings and maintained a high level of treatment fidelity. CONCLUSIONS: Use of a social story helped parents implement a multicomponent intervention using a familiar bedtime routine, thereby increasing the likelihood that implementation and effects occurred. The book format makes this intervention widely available to parents and professionals, with minimal costs and inconvenience. (+info)
Analysis of postarousal EEG activity during somnambulistic episodes.
Early studies found that electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings during somnambulistic episodes were characterized by a combination of alpha, theta, and delta frequencies, without evidence of clear wakefulness. Three postarousal EEG patterns associated with slow-wave sleep (SWS) arousals were recently identified in adults with sleepwalking and sleep terrors. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the distribution of these postarousal EEG patterns in 10 somnambulistic patients (three males, seven females, mean age: 25.1, SD: 4.1) evaluated at baseline and following 38 h of sleep deprivation. A total of 44 behavioral arousals were recorded in the laboratory; seven episodes at baseline (five from SWS, two from stage 2 sleep) and 37 episodes during recovery sleep (30 from SWS, seven from stage 2 sleep). There was no significant difference in the distribution of postarousal EEG patterns identified during baseline and recovery sleep. One pattern, comprised of diffuse rhythmic and synchronous delta activity, was preferentially associated with relatively simple behavioral episodes but did not occur during episodes from stage 2 sleep. Overall, delta activity was detected in 48% of the behavioral episodes from SWS and in 22% of those from stage 2. There was no evidence of complete awakening during any of the episodes. The results support the view of somnambulism as a disorder of arousal and suggest that sleepwalkers' atypical arousal reactions can manifest themselves in stage 2 sleep in addition to SWS. (+info)
Adult chronic sleepwalking and its treatment based on polysomnography.
Adult sleepwalking affects 2.5% of the general population and may lead to serious injuries. Fifty young adults with chronic sleepwalking were studied prospectively. Clinical evaluation, questionnaires from patients and bed partners, and polysomnography were obtained on all subjects in comparison with 50 age-matched controls. Subjects were examined for the presence of psychiatric anxiety, depression and any other associated sleep disorder. Isolated sleepwalking or sleepwalking with psychiatric disorders was treated with medication. All other patients with other sleep disorders were treated only for their associated problem. Prospective follow-up lasted 12 months after establishment of the most appropriate treatment. Patients with only sleepwalking, treated with benzodiazepines, dropped out of follow-up testing and reported persistence of sleepwalking, as did patients with psychiatric-related treatment. Chronic sleepwalkers frequently presented with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). All these patients were treated only for their SDB, using nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). All nasal CPAP-compliant patients had control of sleepwalking at all stages of follow-up. Non-compliant nasal CPAP patients had persistence of sleepwalking. They were offered surgical treatment for SDB. Those successfully treated with surgery also had complete resolution of sleepwalking. Successful treatment of SDB, which is frequently associated with chronic sleepwalking, controlled the syndrome in young adults. (+info)
Increased sensitivity of the neuronal nicotinic receptor alpha 2 subunit causes familial epilepsy with nocturnal wandering and ictal fear.
Sleep has traditionally been recognized as a precipitating factor for some forms of epilepsy, although differential diagnosis between some seizure types and parasomnias may be difficult. Autosomal dominant frontal lobe epilepsy is characterized by nocturnal seizures with hyperkinetic automatisms and poorly organized stereotyped movements and has been associated with mutations of the alpha 4 and beta 2 subunits of the neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. We performed a clinical and molecular genetic study of a large pedigree segregating sleep-related epilepsy in which seizures are associated with fear sensation, tongue movements, and nocturnal wandering, closely resembling nightmares and sleep walking. We identified a new genetic locus for familial sleep-related focal epilepsy on chromosome 8p12.3-8q12.3. By sequencing the positional candidate neuronal cholinergic receptor alpha 2 subunit gene (CHRNA2), we detected a heterozygous missense mutation, I279N, in the first transmembrane domain that is crucial for receptor function. Whole-cell recordings of transiently transfected HEK293 cells expressing either the mutant or the wild-type receptor showed that the new CHRNA2 mutation markedly increases the receptor sensitivity to acetylcholine, therefore indicating that the nicotinic alpha 2 subunit alteration is the underlying cause. CHRNA2 is the third neuronal cholinergic receptor gene to be associated with familial sleep-related epilepsies. Compared with the CHRNA4 and CHRNB2 mutations reported elsewhere, CHRNA2 mutations cause a more complex and finalized ictal behavior. (+info)
Alcohol-induced sleepwalking or confusional arousal as a defense to criminal behavior: a review of scientific evidence, methods and forensic considerations.
An increasing number of criminal cases have claimed the defendant to be in a state of sleepwalking or related disorders induced by high quantities of alcohol. Sleepwalkers who commit violent acts, sexual assaults and other criminal acts are thought to be in a state of automatism, lacking conscious awareness and criminal intent. They may be acquitted in criminal trials. On the other hand, criminal acts performed as the result of voluntary alcohol intoxication alone cannot be used as a complete defense. The alcohol-induced sleepwalking criminal defense is most often based on past clinical or legal reports that ingestion of alcohol directly 'triggers' sleepwalking or increased the risk of sleepwalking by increasing the quantity of slow wave sleep (SWS). A review of the sleep medicine literature found no sleep laboratory studies of the effects of alcohol on the sleep of clinically diagnosed sleepwalkers. However, 19 sleep laboratory studies of the effects of alcohol on the sleep of healthy non-drinkers or social drinkers were identified with none reporting a change in SWS as a percentage of total sleep time. However, in six of 19 studies, a modest but statistically significant increase in SWS was found in the first 2-4 h. Among studies of sleep in alcohol abusers and abstinent abusers, the quantity and percentage of SWS was most often reduced and sometimes absent. Claims that direct alcohol provocation tests can assist in the forensic assessment of these cases found no support of any kind in the medical literature with not a single report of testing in normative or patient groups and no reports of validation testing of any sort. There is no direct experimental evidence that alcohol predisposes or triggers sleepwalking or related disorders. A legal defense of sleepwalking resulting from voluntarily ingested alcohol should be consistent with the current state of art sleep science and meet generally accepted requirements for the diagnosis of sleepwalking and other parasomnias. (+info)
Coexistence of epileptic nocturnal wanderings and an arachnoid cyst.
Episodic nocturnal wanderings (ENWs) have rarely been associated with gross abnormalities of brain structures. We describe the case of a patient with ENWs in coexistence with an arachnoid cyst (AC). The patient was a 15-year-old boy who presented with nocturnal attacks characterized by complex motor behaviors. An MRI revealed a left temporal cyst and a SPECT Tc99 scan showed left temporal hypoperfusion and bilateral frontal hyperperfusion, more evident on the right side. During an all-night polysomnographic recording with audiovisual monitoring, dystonic posture followed by sleepwalking-like behavior was documented. The sleepwalking-like behavior was preceded by a spike discharge over the left frontocentral region with contralateral projection and secondary generalization during stage 2 sleep. Treatment with levetiracetam produced a striking remission of seizures. This supports a conservative management of an AC, considering that it may be an incidental finding. In epileptic patients, an AC may not necessarily be related to the location of the seizure focus. (+info)