ADHD and Sleep Apnea: Pediatric Airway Issues
This is the first of three Blogs related to pediatric airway issues and will focus on the relation between ADHD and Sleep Apnea. Do you ever sneeze a few times before bedtime and someone in the other room says, “You better go to sleep early, you’re getting a cold!” This sneezing is often a precursor to a cold or virus that the body attempts to control with the lymph system. When activated, parts of the lymph system (the tonsils and adenoids) become swollen. Unfortunately, we also use this space in our mouth and throat to breathe so swelling of the tonsils and adenoids reduces the patency of the airway. This is why we are often accused of snoring when we have a cold as our body struggles to breathe easily while at the same time battling the invading virus. Snoring and airway compromise keep us from the deep, restful sleep that we are used to. This is also why – after a few sleepless nights – we get tired and run down and grind our teeth (a sign of shallow sleep cycles).
Fortunately for most of us, this grinding of our teeth, snoring, mouth breathing, and fatigue lasts only a few nights. But what if you had this happen every night for years? We often see the body compensate for chronic sleep deprivation by stimulating the body to stay awake during the day. Signs of this in school aged children may include bed wetting, misdiagnosed ADHD, poor school performance, aggressive behavior, and developmental delay. In some cases, we can correct these behavioral and developmental issues through improving the nighttime sleep.
1. Padmanabhan V, Kaitha PR, Hedge AM. Sleep disordered breathing in children – A review and the role of the pediatric dentist. J Clin Ped Dent 2010;35(1):15-21.
2. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry; The Reference Manual of Pediatric Dentistry 2019-2020 pgs 110-113.