Pediatric Sleep Disorders
Why is sleep important for children?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Kids
Children manifest with obstructive sleep apnea very differently than adults. Most children do not snore loudly and do not exhibit discernible pauses in their breathing. For them, the consequences of undetected apnea can be even more severe than adults. Sleep apnea can affect a child’s brain cells extensively and may cause more decline in their IQ than even lead poisoning. Pediatric sleep apnea increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, worsens asthma control, worsens seizures, and significantly impacts learning (especially language and math) and behavior.
If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to speak to a pediatric sleep specialist about a complete sleep evaluation. This will include information on how to proceed, and will tell you whether your child’s sleep is disturbed by OSA or one of many other curable sleep disorders that can cause daytime symptoms.
Any parent can attest to 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, children 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.
Sleep is one of the most important parts of a growing child’s brain development. While a child sleeps, his/her 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 or getting enough sleep, please schedule a complete sleep evaluation with a pediatric sleep specialist. Too often, these issues are ignored by parents, who brush them off as “kids being kids,” or thinking that the child will “grow out of it,” and as a result of inaction the entire family suffers along with the child. Take a step towards better sleep for your entire family and schedule a pediatric sleep evaluation today.