Pediatric Sleep Services
Is Your Child Too Tired?
The occasional night of poor sleep, especially when it lines up with an event that the child is anxious about, or sickness, is part of growing up. When kids sleep poorly on a regular basis, however, things become much more concerning. They can be misdiagnosed as ADHD and learning difficulties and be put on unnecessary medications with long term side effects.
Kids who aren’t sleeping well are at risk of:
• Behavioral problems, especially in school, where they need to be still and focused.
• Sleep is an incredibly important part of the learning process. During the different phases of sleep, different parts of our day are processed by our brain, and this affects our learning over time.
• Difficulty in sports and other physical activities.
• Anxiety and depression.
What should you look for to determine if your child is getting a good night’s sleep? Here are some signs of poor sleeping:
• Breathing pauses or noisy breathing
• Wetting the bed after at least six months of dry nights?
• Night sweats, or difficulty falling asleep
Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Kids
Children manifest with obstructive sleep apnea very differently than the adults. Most children do not snore loud and do not exhibit discernible pauses in their breathing. For them, the consequences can be even more severe. Sleep apnea can affect the brain cells extensively and may cause more decline in their IQ than with lead poisoning. It increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, worsens their asthma control, worsens seizures, and significantly impact learning (especially language and maths) and behavior.
If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to speak to a pediatric sleep specialist to get a complete sleep evaluation. The evaluation will give you information on how to proceed, whether your child’s sleep is disturbed by OSA, or one of many other sleep disorders that can cause daytime symptoms.
Behavior Problems and Sleep
Any parent can tell you what a child is like after a bad night of sleep; they are more easily frustrated, more “wired” or “hyper,” less able to hear “no,” and less likely to consider the consequences of their actions. Unlike adults, who tend to act sleepy and perhaps look for a chance to nap, kids who are overtired generally compensate by forcing themselves to stay energetic and busy, even when they need rest. When sleep debt becomes an ongoing issue for a child, it can lead to behavior problems and masquerade as ADHD, depression, anxiety, learning difficulties and, for teenagers, falling asleep behind the wheel.
Brain Development and Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important parts of a growing child’s brain development. While a child sleeps it’s brain changes, grows, and learns in several ways. If a young child has regularly interrupted sleep, it can result in lifelong learning consequences for the child.
Even very young children can be diagnosed and treated for sleep disorders. If you’re concerned that your child isn’t sleeping well, the best thing to do is to schedule a complete sleep evaluation with a pediatric sleep specialist. Too often, these problems get brushed off as “kids being kids,” and the entire family suffers along with the child’s poor sleep. Take a step towards better sleep for your entire family and schedule a sleep evaluation today.