What to look out for when it comes to children and sleep

by David McIntosh at ENT Specialists Australia.

Parents – we know that children do not come with an instruction book.

We know that you can’t know everything. So we’ve put this list together. It’s a list of things that are NOT normal and should not be ignored when it comes to your child and sleep. These things are signs of a problem. Please don’t ignore the warning signs listed here. Please insist on seeing a specialist that actually knows what all these problems potentially mean. You may need to see more than one specialist to sort these problems out but one of those specialists often will be a paediatric ENT that deals with upper airway obstruction in kids.

Here is the list:

  1. Snoring
  2. Mouth breathing
  3. Stopping breathing when asleep
  4. Teeth grinding when asleep
  5. Sleep talking
  6. Sleep walking
  7. Night terrors
  8. Bed wetting beyond about 8 years of age, maybe even 5
  9. Waking up tired
  10. Tired during the day
  11. Emotional sensitivity- for example cries at drop of a hat, moody, grumpy, anger management issues
  12. Educational problems
  13. Behavioural issues
  14. Sleeping with the head arched back
  15. Restless sleep, tossing and turning
  16. The bed is all messed up
  17. Sweating at night
  18. Chewing on food and spitting certain ones out consistently- especially meat
  19. Repeated ear infections
  20. Drools on the pillow
  21. Wakes up with a headache
  22. Gasping or waking with a startle
  23. Fidgety during the day, can’t sit still
  24. Has symptoms suggestive of ADHD
  25. Has to be propped up on a few pillows to sleep
  26. Wakes with a dry mouth and/or dry lips
  27. Lower jaw sits backwards relative to the upper jaw when viewed from the side
  28. A narrow upper jaw, with the roof of the mouth sometimes forming a high arch at the same time
  29. When the mouth is wide open, the tongue can not touch the roof of the mouth
  30. Has chewing and/or swallowing problems
  31. A regular or persistent blocked nose
  32. Coughing at night
  33. Regular throat clearing
  34. Frequent blood noses specifically when asleep.

In getting advice, do not accept the following answers without getting a second opinion because the following answers are often given but are often not substantiated but the research:

  1. They will out grow it
  2. It’s normal, lots of kids do this
  3. It’s just how he/she is
  4. It’s only a quite snore so don’t worry about it
  5. They just take after their dad/mum
  6. If you can hear them breathing that’s ok, it means they are alive
  7. Some kids just take a longer time than others to stop wetting the bed
  8. It’s just a normal phase they are going through

It is very important to use this list to re-evaluate what you believe and change your perspective completely if you yourself fall into the second list of the way you thought about things in the first list.

And it’s important you attend to things quickly. The research shows that it only takes 6 months of sleep problems to lead to permanent damage. Damage to the brain, damage to the heart. Damage throughout the body. So please act now.

If you would like to learn more, please visit the website of ENT Specialists Australia.

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