Many are quick to call a child’s hyperactivity or lack of focus in the classroom Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In fact, 11 percent of children ages 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD since 2011. If your child is having a hard time staying focused during the day, the real problem may be what happens at night. While obstructive sleep apneas seem like a sleep problem only for adults, children can also experience the same symptoms. Studies have shown children who have OSA experienced higher rates of behavioral issues and problems paying attention, communicating effectively and with showing aggression, similar to an ADHD diagnosis. Other similar symptoms of both ADHA and OSA include:
- Difficulty staying focused
- Memory lapses
- Feeling restless and fidgety
- Behavioral changes such as irritability or hyperactivity
Sleep apneas are most common in children who have enlarged tonsils or adenoids, or who are overweight. OSAs can also be caused by having excess tissue at the back of the throat, which could be blocking the windpipe. Having a larger than average tongue or a deviated septum can also cause OSA to develop. Here are some of the most common symptoms of OSA in children:
- Sleeping in an abnormal position
- Snoring often and loudly
- Breathing only through the mouth during sleep
- Difficulty waking in the morning
- Periods of not breathing during sleep
- Daytime sleepiness
Obstructive sleep apneas are very treatable in young children, and as they age, they may “grow out of” their disorder. Left untreated, pediatric sleep disorders can continue to affect your sleep as you age. There are many treatment options a certified sleep doctor may recommend, such as the use of a CPAP machine at night, which is a mask that is worn over the face to help keep the airways open during sleep. In more serious cases, the doctor may recommend removing the tonsils (tonsillectomy) and adenoids (adenoidectomy) to stop blockage at the back of the throat.
If you think your child’s daytime behaviors could be a result of their sleep habits, stop in at one of our Iowa Sleep locations in West Des Moines or Ankeny. We can start a conversation with you and your child about their sleep habits to determine how to achieve a better night’s rest.