More Solutions to Your Child's Sleep Problems
Four childhood sleep scenarios, and what you can do to rest easy
Problem: Beyond snoring, your child gasps for breath or even seems to stop breathing for a few seconds to a minute at night.
Why it Happens: These are classic symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that affects about 3 percent of children, according to Lynn D’Andrea, M.D., director of the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, in Wauwatosa. And they’re very scary when witnessed by wide-awake parents. Sleep apnea definitely requires intervention. “Your child won’t sleep well if he’s not breathing well. Plus, the condition causes his oxygen levels to plummet, can lead to high blood pressure, and may contribute to bed-wetting,” says D’Andrea. Because they’re sleep-deprived, kids with sleep apnea may be so overactive and inattentive during the day that teachers or parents mistakenly think they have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), says D’Andrea. As a result, savvy pediatricians now screen kids for sleep disorders as part of ADHD evaluations.
How to Rest Easy: As with snoring, the most common remedy for sleep apnea in children is a tonsillectomy or an adenoidectomy. In rare cases, a child will still have trouble breathing even after the surgery (this is more common in overweight children), and for some children a doctor may recommend a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. The CPAP apparatus forces compressed air through your child’s airways, eliminating both snoring and apnea.