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Sleep Disorders in Children

Sleep disorders can affect people of all ages and cause acute and chronic health conditions that negatively affect the quality of life. According to the American Family Physician, 50% of children have some form of sleep disorder. However, only 4% of children have undergone proper diagnosis and seek treatment.


A research study published on NCBI states that 31% of children between six and thirteen years find it challenging to fall asleep at night. 16% of children between four and eleven years can’t maintain proper sleep and suffer from some kind of sleep disorder.


Sleep disorders that affect children are insomnia, parasomnia, and sleep apnea. These disorders can also cause disruptive behaviors, such as night terrors, difficulty falling asleep, breathing issues, sleepwalking, and bed wetting. Read on!


Causes of Sleep Disorders in Children

There are numerous causes of sleep issues in children. For example, physical conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, can prevent children from getting a good night’s sleep. Stress, depression, mood disorders, and other mental health conditions can interfere with sleep patterns among children.


In addition, a lack of a proper sleeping environment can also prevent children from falling asleep. Kids, including adolescents and teens, who use smartphones suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia because the blue light from these devices penetrates the eyes and reduces melatonin production.


Moreover, micrognathia is a common health condition in newborn babies, causing a small-size or underdeveloped jaw. Micrognathia can cause problems for infants to feed on the mother’s milk and breathe in the fresh air.


An underdeveloped jaw, tongue tie, narrow jaw, lip tie, teeth grinding, palatal torus, and vaulted palate can also cause sleep problems in children. Children with underdeveloped jaws suffer from snoring, mouth breathing, obstructive airflow to the lungs, and sleep apnea.


According to Cleveland Clinic, micrognathia has genetic and environmental causes. The hereditary causes are cleft lip and palate, Treacher Collins syndrome, Pierre Robin Syndrome, Progeria, Stickler Syndrome, and Trisomy 13 and 18.


Short-Term Breast Feeding: Breast suckling benefits children in various ways and plays a critical role in jaw development. Proper jaw development is directly proportional to improved airflow/breathing. However, short-term breastfeeding and frequent use of pacifiers and bottles can deform jaws and obstruct airways.


Early Soft Food Diet: According to First Bite, feeding children soft food too early can affect jaw development. Likewise, a poor diet can negatively affect jaw development among babies and cause other problems, including inefficient brain development and reduced brain size.


Risks of Sleep Disorders in Children

Poor sleep can increase the risk of health issues among children and pose adverse daytime consequences. Children lacking sleep suffer from mental, emotional, and social problems. Not only do kids have poor neurocognitive development and performance, but they also experience stress and depression. Common risks of sleep disorders in children are:


Bed Wetting: A PubMed-based research study shows that children with sleep disorders or breathing problems are more likely to suffer from enuresis or bed wetting. Researchers conclude that sleep apnea can negatively affect bladder pressure and secrete urinary hormones.


ADHD: Sleep-deprived children can increase the risk of ADHD among children. It increases inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity among children with ADHD. Therefore, prompt and proper treatment is essential to address the issue.


Stress or Depression: A study published in Science Daily shows that stress, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders are common in children among preschool and school-aged children. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of stress and depression in school-aged kids.


Mouth Breathing: Sleep apnea causes children to breathe through their mouths. Another cause of mouth breathing among children is limited airflow due to tonsils and sinuses.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea: an underdeveloped jaw can restrict the airway and severely affect a child from breathing properly. A small-sized jaw or narrow face can cause obstructive sleep apnea.


It restricts or limits the space for the tongue to move adequately while a child is asleep, obstructive the airway. Obstructive sleep apnea can cause problems like snoring, gasping, fatigue, and open-mouth posture at night. Other issues include:

  • Poor cognitive performance

  • Behavioral problems

  • Interrupted sleep

  • Depression or stress

  • Hyperactivity

  • Anger or tantrums

  • Learning issues

  • Social problems


Treatment Options

The most common treatment option for sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or insomnia, is melatonin or trazodone. These are the first line of treatment, and about 83% of children respond positively to melatonin.


However, medications can cause side effects, and prolonged use may lead to complications requiring their own treatment! Corrective jaw surgery is another treatment option for a narrow face or small jaw. However, invasive surgery can cause severe bleeding, trauma, soreness, bruising, discomfort, swelling, inflammation, and pain.


The recovery period is more extended than conservative treatment options, meaning it takes months to recover from surgery. Moreover, a surgeon cutting through the muscles may injure the nearby nerves, leading to neuropathic pain and neurological issues.


Therefore, surgery is not ideal for treating sleep disorders caused by an underdeveloped jaw. The good news is that VIVOS Guides and DNA Appliances are effective for children of and can ease symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and other disorders.

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