Restless sleep disorder
: a new sleep disorder in children

  • Lourdes Madeleine Del Rosso

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Restless sleep is seen in children and has been reported in the medical literature since 1980. Earlier reports have included subjective data without a clear definition of restless sleep. For decades paediatric sleep physicians have evaluated children presenting with a main concern for frequent movements and repositioning during sleep that lasted all night and contributed to daytime symptoms of sleepiness, fatigue, behavioural problems, or poor school performance. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine currently does not include restless sleep among the sleep disorders found in the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, 3rd edition. It also does not include criteria for scoring large body movements in the scoring manual. This constitutes an important gap in the field of paediatric Sleep Medicine.
I started research in children with restless sleep under the mentorship of Doctor Raffaele Ferri. Through a series of publications characterising the sleep parameters and movements, we postulated the existence of a new sleep related movement disorder in children which we called restless sleep disorder. The initial important findings were recognised by the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group, which through the creation of a task force, formalised the consensus diagnostic criteria.
Since then, I have led a series of work, with the aim to continue characterising and understanding the pathophysiology and consequences of restless sleep disorder in children as well as the improvement of symptoms after iron supplementation. In this commentary I am including the main 12 publications that have consolidated the establishment of restless sleep disorder as a new paediatric sleep disorder as well as the surrounding body of support from the sleep community as evidenced by webinars, interviews, and presentations in various parts of the world, and most importantly, evidence that the diagnosis and treatment of restless sleep disorder improves sleep and daytime function in children.
Date of Award2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorRebecca Stores (Supervisor)

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