Behavior and Childhood Sleep Disorders

Florence Cardinal Health Guide
  • A recent news article states: "Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is associated with behavior problems in children with asthma, researchers have found."

     

    But behavior problems are often linked to any type of sleep disordered breathing.

    It was discovered that approximately a third of children with asthma also had sleep disordered breathing resulting from some form of sleep disorders. Those children had significantly worse behavior than those who had no sleep problems. They also had a lower academic level.

     

    Sleep disordered breathing may be the result of several factors. Often simply removing enlarged adenoids and tonsils will solve or at least partially alleviate the problem. Other causes are not so easy to detect or treat. Several sleep disorders can cause sleep disordered breathing. The worst culprit is childhood sleep apnea.

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    The National Sleep Foundation agrees that undiagnosed and untreated seep apnea may contribute to daytime fatigues and behavioral problems at school. NSF lists the following symptoms of childhood sleep apnea:

     

    During the night, a child with sleep apnea may:

    • Snore loudly and on a regular basis
    • Have pauses, gasps, and snorts and actually stop
      breathing. The snorts or gasps may waken them and
      disrupt their sleep.
    • Be restless or sleep in abnormal positions with their head
      in unusual positions
    • Sweat heavily during sleep

    During the day, a child with sleep apnea may:

     

    • Have behavioral, school and social problems
    • Be difficult to wake up
    • Have headaches during the day, but especially in
      the morning
    • Be irritable, agitated, aggressive, and cranky
    • Be so sleepy during the day that they actually fall asleep
      or daydream
    • Speak with a nasal voice and breathe regularly through
      the mouth.

    Using a combination of a special type of MRI and IQ and performance tests, researchers found changes in the hippocampus and right frontal cortex of the brain in young sleep apnea victims. The hippocampus is vital to learning and memory storage. The right frontal cortex allows people to access old memories and use them in new situations.

    The evidence suggests that children with sleep apnea suffer injuries to the brain that interfere with learning ability.

Published On: July 17, 2009