Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

Most parents believe that as long as their child is sleeping, the child is getting a good night’s sleep. However, if a child is a mouth breather, if a child snores or grinds the teeth at night, it could be an indication of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) with the most significant being obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) when a child has periodic pauses in breathing while sleeping.

These sleep-related breathing issues are common in children and can result in significant health and behavioral problems but because they are hard to catch in young children, they often go undiagnosed and untreated.

Many parents are not even aware that their children have breathing problems related to sleep. They might even think that if their child snores or grinds teeth at night it’s OK. Even some pediatricians will tell the parents that a child will grow out of it which is absolutely wrong.

Snoring and OSA disrupt normal oxygenation of the child’s growing body and developing brain especially and are associated not only with major medical conditions such as failure to thrive, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes but also with neuro-cognitive impairment and behavioral problems.

Many kids who snore in early childhood are often at a greater risk for developing behavioral problems with the symptoms similar to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms.

Inattentiveness – Trouble Concentrating – Impulsiveness – Hyperactivity – Day-Time Sleepiness – Irritability… These are the effects of sleep deprivation in children. Don’t they sound like ADHD symptoms?

Studies have suggested that as many as 25% of children diagnosed with ADHD may actually have OSA and that much of their learning difficulties and behavioral problems can be the consequence of chronic fragmented sleep and sleep deprivation as a result.

According to new guidelines of American Academy of Pediatrics,

  • All children/adolescents should be screened for snoring
  • All children/adolescents who snore should be tested for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

Children have routine vision and hearing screenings at schools but there are no routine screenings for snoring or other signs and symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing.

Parents need to be aware of this. They need to know what signs and symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing to look for and what can go wrong with their child’s health if the child is not getting good quality sleep due to poor breathing at night.

Parents need to know that if their child has behavioral problems or has been diagnosed with ADHD this poor child may just be a sleep-deprived child who is trying to stay awake.

The benefits of early recognition and addressing sleep-related breathing problems such as snoring and sleep apnea in children cannot be overestimated. Good healthy sleep plays a crucial role in a child’s development and can have a lifelong effect on his/her wellness and the ability to reach his/her full potential.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep-Disordered Breathing

    When sleeping, does a child…

  • Snore?
  • Have a “heavy” or loud breathing?
  • Have trouble breathing, or struggle to breathe?
  • Mouth breathe?
  • Grind the teeth?
  • Move a lot? Tosses and turns in bed?
  • Wet the bed at night?
  • Have night sweats?
  • Have frequent awakenings?
  • Wake up to go to the bathroom?

Does a child…

  • Have a dry mouth on waking up in the morning?
  • Wake up feeling unrefreshed in the morning?
  • Have a problem waking up in the morning?
  • Have headaches in the morning?
  • Have a problem with sleepiness during the day?
  • Have behavioral problems?