Sleep Apnea In Children

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is when the airway collapses (or partially collapses)during sleep and blocks or limits the flow of air to the lungs.

The person tries to continue to breathe, but the harder they try, the tighter the airway closes.

Eventually, the brain “wakes up” the person to a lighter level of sleep and the person will reposition their jaw and tongue to open the airway- usually with a gasp or snort.

The sleeper will then usually start the whole process over again. This can happen hundreds of times per night!!

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Stages Of Sleep Apnea

Obviously, being suffocated many times per hour will result in a less that restful night of sleep. There are four main stages of sleep.

  • Stage one- Transition sleep: This should account for roughly 5% of total sleep time.
  • Stage two- Light Sleep: This should account for about 45% of total sleep time.
  • Stage Three-Deep Sleep: This is when he body heals itself and performs many important reparative functions. Ideally, this should account for 25% of total sleep time. People who have a lack of deep sleep tend to be physically tired and notice more general pain.
  • REM- Rapid Eye Movement (REM sleep): This is where most of your memorable dreaming comes from. It should account for about 25% of your sleep time. People that have a lack of REM sleep tend to feel mentally tired and have a difficult time concentrating.

It is crucial that we get the necessary amount of deep sleep and REM sleep so that we can live happy, healthy lives. We can help you reach this goal. Contact our office today. (262) 970-0111

Sleep Apnea Also Affects Children

Sleep apnea also affects children. Usually this is due to the child having large tonsils and/or adenoids that obstruct the airway; just like in adults, often snoring is a sign of an obstructed airway. It’s not “cute” when your child snores just like Daddy. Typically, children do not snore as loudly as an adult, but any airway noise is a concern. It is a serious health problem and has been shown to lower their IQ by as much as 10 points. Some of the problems common in children that have been linked to sleep apnea include:

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and ADHD
  • Mood disorders
  • Bed wetting
  • Problems learning
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Difficulty coping
  • Frequent tantrums or “melt downs”
  • Fight bedtime
  • Get up frequently during the night
  • Night Terrors
  • Unusual Sleeping Positions ( especially an arched neck)

Your child does NOT need to have ALL of these issues to be diagnosed with sleep disorder breathing. Any one of these can be a clue to this disorder. If you suspect your child may have an airway problem during sleep, please call our office for a consultation and screening. THIS IS TOO IMPORTANT TO IGNORE OR TAKE A “WAIT AND SEE” APPROACH!!

How Sleep Apnea Is Treated

The quality of your sleep greatly affects your quality of life. The good news is that help is readily available from a sleep apnea clinic and usually doesn’t require medications. If you think you may have sleep apnea or you know someone who might, please ask us for a referral to a qualified sleep specialist in your area, or talk to your primary care doctor. Treating sleep apnea can add more life to your years and more years to your life.

Oral appliance therapy has become a widely used and accepted method of treating sleep disordered breathing in adults. The gold standard therapy for adults with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Although CPAP is usually very effective in treating OSA, there are many patients who are not able to tolerate its use. If you have tried to use CPAP but have given up on using the therapy, an oral appliance may be for you. Contact Stumpf Dental for a consultation.