We use the Sleep Disturbance Scale for Children (SDSC) routinely as a tool for evaluating children's sleep quality in our pediatric neurology clinic. We analyzed at its ability to detect sleep disturbances distinctive to selected neurological disorders.
One-hundred and eighty-six children (age range 2-18 years) who were evaluated by the SDSC questionnaire were divided into three groups according to their principal diagnosis: epilepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or others. Their responses were analyzed.
The average frequency of abnormal total sleep score was 26.9%. The most frequent sleep disorders were excessive somnolence (25.3%), initiating and maintaining sleep (24.7%), and arousal/nightmares (23.1%). There were no significant group differences for total scores or sleep disorder–specific scores; although a sleep–wake transition disorder was more frequent among children with epilepsy (31%). A literature search revealed that the frequency of abnormal total scores in several neurological disorders (e.g., epilepsy, cerebral palsy) ranges between 20% and 30%.
The mechanism underlying sleep disturbances in many neurological disorders may be unrelated to that of the primary disease but rather originate from nonspecific or environmental factors (e.g., familial/social customs and habits, temperament, psychological parameters). Although the SDSC is noninformative for studying the effect of a specific neurological disorder on sleep, we still recommend its implementation for screening for sleep disturbances in children with neurological abnormalities.
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Published online: September 30, 2013
Accepted: June 14, 2013
Received: May 2, 2013
© 2013 Elsevier Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.