Children often require more rest than adults, and your child's sleep needs can vary according their age, level of activity and overall health. However, you should be concerned if your child often appears tired or cranky after a full night of sleep. Unfortunately, sleep apnea affects children just as it does adults, and you can use this guide to find out if this common condition is at the root of your child's inability to feel well-rested after a good night of sleep.
Know Your Child's Risk Factors
Sleep apnea can be caused by a variety of health conditions, or your child may stop breathing in their sleep because of a genetic predisposition. Children who have a family history of obstructive sleep apnea are at greater risk for having the condition. You should also be concerned about sleep apnea if your child has structural abnormalities on their face, mouth or neck such as an overly large tongue.
Watch for Signs of Sleep Apnea
You've already spotted one of the most common signs of sleep apnea by noticing that your child simply doesn't feel rested after they get a whole night of sleep. However, there are other signs that you can look for such as excessive or extremely loud snoring. Children with sleep apnea breathe heavily throughout the night or toss and turn. Although bedwetting can have other causes, many children with sleep apnea also exhibit this behavior. Due to the lack of restful sleep, you may have trouble waking your child up in the morning, or they may struggle in school with behavioral or academic problems.
Arrange for Testing and Treatment
Once sleep apnea is suspected, it is important to act quickly to get your child the help they need to improve their sleep. Sleep apnea services often begin with testing that aids in the diagnosis of the condition. During a sleep study, specialists use sensors to monitor things such as your child's respiration, body movements and brain waves as they sleep. Your child may also need to be examined by a physician to check for underlying causes such as enlarged tonsils that could be blocking their airway. After the testing is complete, you will be provided with a treatment plan for your child's diagnosis that may include strategies such as using a CPAP machine that helps move air into their open airways as they sleep.
While any behavioral changes in your child are upsetting, you should be worried about problems with their sleep. By recognizing the signs of sleep apnea and taking prompt action to check for the condition, you can help your child get the most out of their bedtime.