Children also suffer from sleep apnea

Sleep hygiene

Adults are not the only ones affected by sleep apnea syndrome: according to the Swiss Lung League (1), 2% of children also suffer from it. However, because it is less easy to detect the symptoms in our dear little ones, parents often remain unaware of it. What are the signs of this sleep disorder in children?
And what consequences can it have on their cognitive development?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea: How to Detect This Sleep Disorder in Children ?

Snoring or noisy breathing are usually the first signs that alert parents to their child’s sleep apnea, as well as mouth breathing and adopting unusual sleeping positions.

Indirect symptoms can also be a warning: restless sleep, excessive sweating, complaints of headaches during the day, daytime sleepiness… Attention disorders resulting from a lack of sleep are sometimes also noticed by teachers.

Unlike adult sleep apnea, sleep apnea in children is most often caused by structural issues: nasal obstruction, enlarged tonsils, jaw shape, etc.

How to Treat Sleep Apnea for Children ?

This sleep disorder in children can be confirmed by an ENT specialist. Using nasofibroscopy, the specialist will look for obstructive pathologies in the upper airways and/or enlarged tonsils. A sleep specialist may also conduct a polysomnography to study the quality of sleep and check oxygen saturation in the blood.

If an obstructive pathology is confirmed, surgical intervention is often chosen, such as the removal of adenoids, tonsillectomy, or correction of a deviated nasal septum. If the child’s facial structure is too narrow for surgery, orthodontic therapy may also be recommended.

Lack of Sleep in Children and Risks to the Brain

Regardless of its origin, insufficient or poor-quality sleep can have significant consequences on a child’s cognitive and intellectual development. The main issue is that the brain does not receive the necessary amount of oxygen for proper maturation.

The effects of this lack of sleep can then impact the child’s academic performance. Additionally, to compensate for daytime drowsiness, children tend to show signs of hyperactivity, such as lack of attention and a continuous need to move.

To effectively combat these effects, children must maintain good sleep hygiene throughout the brain’s developmental phase. This includes keeping reasonable bedtime schedules, even on weekends.

To detect possible sleep apnea in your child, we recommend a test to assess their overall level of daytime sleepiness.