Updated December 8th 2016. By Dr Nancy Markley
Snoring is often regarded as a condition which only affects adults, but it is also something which can and does affect children. While it has been estimated that 45% of the population are snorers (with 25% of adults being habitual snorers), the Sleep Foundation estimates that anywhere from 10 to 12% of children are habitual snorers.
This makes snoring a familial problem, especially now, as school is about to start up once again for North American children. Regardless of who may be the snorer, any disruption to one’s sleep can have short term and long term negative consequences.
The Affects of Sleep Disruption in Children
Children and teenagers need more sleep than the average adult. However, a glaring number of children are not receiving nearly enough sleep per night for a number of reasons, including family schedules, the use of electronics and disruptive living arrangements.
Below is a quick guide provided by the Sleep Foundation for how much sleep your child likely needs in order to properly function the next day:
Researcher Rebecca G. Astill from the Department of Sleep and Cognition at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience studied more than 35,000 children between the ages of 5 and 12 to examine how sleep can affect school performance and behavior. In the study Astill found the following to be true in the majority of children who did not receive enough sleep:
Differences Between Adult and Child Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation tends to appear differently in children than in adults. Children who are sleep deprived tend to be moody, obstinate and “wired”. These children often have a difficult time sitting still and focusing, which in part may explain for poor academic performance.
It is also well known that sleep deprived children also have a more difficult time socially and tend to have a harder time getting along with their peers.
Recent research also found that some children who have or had been diagnosed with ADHD were actually sleep deprived. One study found that children who suffered from breathing conditions like snoring or apnea were anywhere from 40 to 100% more likely than normal breathing children to develop behavioral problems, which resembled ADHD.
Placing a Strain on the Family
Having a child with ADHD or similar symptoms can place a strain on not only the relationship between a parent and a child, but it can be stressful for the entire family. Parents may find themselves constantly feeling the need to “police” their ADHD child, but any other children or relationships may be negatively impacted.
Heading Into Work Sleep Deprived
If your child is having difficulties sleeping at night because they snore (or someone else in the home is snoring and waking them up at night), that alone is taxing. But you heading into work while sleep deprived can also be challenging.
One issue which most sleep-deprived parents do not recognize is that being tired means that our reaction times are slower. This can increase a parents’ risk of being in a car accident while traveling to his or her job or making an error while traveling which can impact the health and safety of themselves as well as co-workers.
Another issue is that tired parents are those who cannot focus at work. Fatigue has a direct impact on how productive we are both physically and mentally, which can lead to a variety of negative outcomes such as:
Fatigue also means that we tend to fall back on old habits, both good and bad. This is because when we sleep, it is more difficult for us to gain control over our actions.
Snoring Is a Family Problem
Whether your child, your partner or yourself is the snorer in the household, one thing is for certain: snoring is a family problem.
Snoring in adults and children often happens for the same reason: the muscle in the upper airway relaxes during sleep, which causes the airway to collapse. As you or your child takes a breath, it will cause an unsteady movement of air, which then vibrates the palate tissues, nose, and throat, causing a rattling snoring sound.
The most important step for families to take is to make sure that whoever in the home is a habitual snoring receives proper medical treatment. Many families will discover that their child has sleep apnea (this will be confirmed by an ear, nose and throat specialist) and surgery to remove enlarged tonsils and adenoids is often a satisfactory solution.