Sleep and Children | Alexandria VA

Child sleeping in classSnoring, long pauses in breathing, tossing and turning, mouth breathing during sleep, night sweats….all of these are possible signs a child has sleep apnea. Sleep apnea in children is more common than you may realize.

In sleep apnea, there are brief but numerous involuntary pauses in breathing during sleep. The pauses in breathing cause the child to be awakened all throughout the night, which prevents deep, restorative sleep. These pauses in breathing are caused by partial or complete obstructions in the airway. The child is basically struggling to get enough air.

Studies show that if left untreated, sleep apnea and other sleep disorders can take a toll on children. Studies show that sleep disorders may be linked to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other learning difficulties as well as problems with behavior. Findings also show that morning headaches, sleep that is disrupted, excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, obesity, frequent upper respiratory infections, bed wetting, sleep walking, night terrors and slowed growth can all be consequences of chronic disturbed sleep in children. Sleep apnea in children has also shown problems in functions such as self-monitoring, planning, organization and self-regulation.  Call today to meet with TMJ and sleep apnea dentist, Dr. Singer for a consultation about a sleep disorder that may be troubling your child.

Fill out our Contact Form or call us at Alexandria Office Phone Number 703-239-6475 if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Singer today!

Obstructive sleep apnea

A common type of sleep apnea in children is obstructive apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction of the airway that may be caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Tonsils and adenoids are specialized tissues that are part of the lymphatic immune system. This is most likely to happen during sleep when the soft tissue at the back of the throat is most relaxed. Some studies estimate the incidence of sleep disordered breathing in children as high as 10-12%.

Airways anatomy diagramSymptoms include:

  • snoring (the most common) followed by pauses or gasping
  • labored breathing while sleeping
  • very restless sleep and sleeping in unusual positions
  • daytime sleepiness or behavioral problems including depression, irritability and ADD
  • bed wetting

Because obstructive sleep apnea may disturb sleep patterns, these children may also show continued sleepiness after waking in the morning and tiredness and attention problems throughout the day. Often, sleep apnea can affect school performance. Studies show that some kids diagnosed with ADHD/ADD actually have attention problems in school because of disrupted sleep patterns that are caused by obstructive sleep apnea. Thus what some of these children need is their sleep problem addressed, not stimulant medications like Adderall, Ritalin and anti-depressants.

Learn About the Diagnosis & Treatment of Sleep Disorders in Children