If you're like most parents, you want to be sure that your child gets enough sleep. A good night's sleep is essential to so many aspects of your child's everyday functioning, including physical and mental development, mood and general health. 

But for children who suffer from the worrisome symptoms of sleep apnea, no matter how many hours a night they get, it often isn't enough to allow them to be their daytime best.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea You Could Miss

Does your child have sleep apnea? If you don't know the signs of this serious condition, it could be easy to miss. Sleep apnea is a problem that causes the upper airways to become obstructed during sleep, resulting in a dip in the person's blood oxygen saturation levels. This can cause a life-threatening situation if it isn't promptly addressed.

And while you would expect the symptoms of sleep apnea to occur mainly at night, there are a number of daytime signs that can indicate that this condition could exist. Further, many of them are not what you would expect.

Night Symptoms of Sleep Apnea can include:

  • Frequent periods of obstructed breathing during sleep
  • Raspy, loud snoring
  • Gasping and choking during sleep
  • Racing heart rate
  • Heavy night sweats
  • Sleeping with open mouth
  • Bedwetting
  • Nightmares or night terrors

Daytime Signs of Sleep Apnea can include:

  • Waking with a headache and/or headaches throughout the day
  • Extreme daytime tiredness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Learning difficulties
  • Personality change or irritability
  • Depression
  • Weight issues (over or under weight)

Position Matters

Supringly enough perhaps, the position your child sleeps in can also be  indicative when it comes to assessing  possible symptoms of sleep apnea. In fact, experts have noticed  that children who sleep for long amounts of time in strange positions, either with their arms stretched out tauntly, or curled in a ball with their backside in the air or hanging off the side of the bed with their head near the floor can be in the earliest stage of sleep apnea, before it actually presents. Children who are prone to the condition  will also be apt to remain in these unnatural positions for quite a while,  instead of moving around throughout the night. One further possible indicator  preceeding sleep apnea is that when you move the sleeping child to a different position, and  he or she goes  instinctively moves back again. This can be a sign that the child is trying to remain in the easiest position to breathe.

See Your Pediatrician

If you suspect your child could have sleep apnea, you should see your pediatrician right away for further assessment. The doctor can run some tests to determine if the condition does exist. If so, many children with symptoms of sleep apnea need to have their tonsils and adnoids removed. Much of the times, this seems to be an easy fix. For children who need more intervention, a special sleeping machine can make a big difference. It works by blowing air into the nose through a special mask, which helps keep the airways open and prevents symptoms of sleep apnea. If necessary, these strategies can help your child can get some much needed rest.


American Sleep Apnea Association


National Sleep Foundation



Stanford University