Gosh, it’s cute when your little one snores. Or does pretty much anything. Except that moment when they’re throwing a tantrum/crying on the ground/generally being a tiny irrational creature. And here’s the rub: the adorable snoring could be the root cause of their little (or big) outburst.
Breathing during sleep is super important (because it’s harder to do)
First off, most of us breathe pretty easily when we’re walking around during the day. But at night, when everything is on autopilot, things can be a little more challenging. And if there are any hindrances to oxygen intake, your body doesn’t cycle through the phases of sleep necessary to perform all of those checks, balances and housekeeping duties to make you wake up refreshed and rested, no matter how many hours you spend in bed.
Snoring is no joke
A telling sign of a sleep breathing issue is snoring. While not all children with sleep breathing issues snore, it’s a common enough sign and definitely something you should share with your pediatrician. Here are some common causes of snoring:
- Respiratory Infection: Nasal blockage from cold or allergies forces mouth breathing which can lead to snoring.
- Enlarged tonsils and adenoids: Swollen glands blocking the airway, making it difficult to sleep. These are a leading cause of snoring in children, and a strong indication of potential obstructive sleep apnea.
- Deviated septum: The airway of the two nostrils is offset or displaced, so one nostril is smaller than the other, making breathing through the nose more difficult.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): Airflow through the upper respiratory system is obstructed, making breathing extremely difficult. Approximately 3% of children between 1-9 years old have OSA, according to the Alaska Sleep Clinic.
“Loud and regular nightly snoring is often abnormal in otherwise healthy children. Sometimes it is a sign of a respiratory infection, a stuffy nose or allergy; other times it may be a symptom of sleep apnea.” - National Sleep Foundation
Keep in mind that not all kids with a sleep breathing issue will snore, so that’s not the only sign you should pay attention to as you note your child’s breathing patterns.
Types of sleep breathing disturbances have a distinct look and feel
There are noticeable changes and signs whenever your child experiences a sleep breathing disturbance. In a typical night, a few disturbances are common for kids (as well as adults), so it’s important to pay attention to the frequency. Here’s what to look for when thinking about the type of breathing disturbance:
- Hypopneas: Shallow breathing, caused by a narrowing airway.
- Obstructive Apneas: Characterized by a pause in breathing, caused by a blocked airway.
- Central Apneas: Repetitive cessation or decrease of both airflow and ventilatory effort, caused by a lack of a brain signal to muscles. A few of these per night is normal, particularly in children and at the moment of falling asleep.
Breathing disturbances come from lots of different places
Sleep position. Jaw/teeth development. Allergen levels. All of these could be the cause of sleep breathing disturbances, and can be directionally identified by their pattern. So when you’re thinking about the type of breathing disturbance your child might be happening, also take note if they’re happening regularly, in short clusters, or even seasonally, as that is information that will be critical to your doctor.
Without good nights, kids can have pretty bad days
Kids who experience frequent sleep breathing disturbances often exhibit telltale signs during the day. They might have trouble concentrating, or they may appear exhausted even if they got a sufficient quantity of sleep the previous night. Sleep breathing issues can cause many short and long-term daytime health concerns. Long-term, breathing issues during sleep can hold kids back academically and socially, and definitively does not set them up for success as adults.
“Children in the study who had trouble breathing during sleep from 6 months of age onward were more likely to have developed behavioral or emotional problems by age 7 than those who breathed normally as they slept. ‘Trouble breathing’ included mouth breathing, snoring, and apnea.” - Harvard Health Publishing
Knit can help your kids sleep better
Knit has developed a solution to uncover if your child is getting the quality of sleep they need to be their best, and it’s as cute as they are (seriously, this camera is so cute!). Knit takes out the guesswork and the necessity of staying up all night to see exactly what happens when your child sleeps. The Knit camera monitors your child’s sleep breathing over a number of days in order to assess the four primary contributing factors to sleep health: quantity, routine, quality and breathing. A sleep expert then reviews the data and provides recommendations specifically for your child, which can be as simple as changing their sheets or as significant as recommending you take your child to a medical specialist for further evaluation.
If you have any concerns that your child’s days are not as good as they could be, or if you’ve witnessed your child having a sleep breathing “event” such as sleepwalking, bedwetting, sleeptalking, or they are very tired or upset during the day, Knit can uncover your child’s night so they can do cute things other than snore.