The sound of snoring is sometimes thought of as cute when it’s coming from a young child, but snoring is never a good thing.
To quote Dr. Mark Burhenne from his excellent book The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox, “Snoring is never normal, never cute, and always a red flag for poor sleep”.
As a myofunctional therapist specializing in sleep-related conditions, I know how detrimental snoring can be to the health of both children and adults, so it’s one of the first things I screen for in all of my patients.
My job is to investigate any underlying health issues related to breathing and the airway. Snoring in particular, can be an indicator of deeper, more involved airway problems.
Research shows that snoring and sleep apnea in children can lead to impaired concentration, poor memory, and difficulty focusing and learning at school. So sleep problems in children are very serious.
Mainstream medicine and dentistry have not always made the link between snoring in children and the harm it can cause, which means that many parents have never made the connection either. So I was pleased to see this subject covered in a current affairs segment on Australia’s high-profile 7 News Network. The program on sleep apnea in young children was called Sleepless Nights. It’s thought provoking stuff for any parent.
The lead-in to the segment on the broadcaster’s website has this to say on the topic:
“If your child snores, no matter how quietly, you may have a big problem on your hands. What most parents don’t know is that while they are sleeping, their snoring children could be suffering long-term damage.
More than half of Australian children suffer from a sleeping disorder, and the effects can last a lifetime. Experts know that a lack of sleep leads to reduced IQ, developmental issues and can even stunt a child’s growth.”
As an American, I’m happy to see other countries recognizing this problem because it definitely happens here too. I see signs and symptoms related to sleep apnea all the time, and unfortunately I’m often the first healthcare provider to notice them.
If parents don’t hear obvious loud snoring, another key thing to watch for is an open mouth. An open mouth can be one of the first signs of trouble with sleep and breathing at night. It’s for this reason that I always recommend that parents and healthcare providers treat an open mouth as soon as they see the signs of it in children. Sleep exercise therapy is one of the best ways to address airway issues such as snoring and other related symptoms.