Sleep Problems in Kids with Arthritis

Children with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely than their healthy peers to suffer from sleep-related problems that can interfere with daily activities.

Doctors know adults with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to suffer from disturbed sleep. These patients often report frequent waking in the night and sleepiness during the day. The new research, from investigators at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, R.I., assessed whether children with the disease also have these symptoms and whether they lead to bedtime resistance and anxiety about sleeping.

Researchers compared sleep habits of 25 kids to the sleep habits of 45 healthy children. Children were evaluated for sleep problems using an array of standard tests, including a questionnaire answered by the children.

Investigators found children with rheumatoid arthritis had higher scores on a number of the evaluations. This included night awakenings, sleep anxiety, sleep-disordered breathing, and sleepiness upon awakening in the morning and during the day. The questionnaire filled out by kids with arthritis also correlated to increased pain.

Authors of the study conclude sleep problems are common in children with rheumatoid arthritis and come from a number of sources ranging from physical abnormalities to behavioral factors like sleep-related anxiety.

SOURCE: The Journal of Rheumatology, 2002;29:169-173

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