Kids and sleep disorders - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Kids and sleep disorders


School is back in full swing now and many parents have heard time and time again the importance of setting a good sleep schedule for kids.

But just because they fall asleep at the same time each night doesn't necessarily mean they're getting a good night's sleep.

Doctors are diagnosing more and more children with sleep disorders.

The National Sleep Foundation estimates about 20 percent of kids in the US snore occasionaly, 10 percent snore most nights.

If your child frequently snores and snores loudly, it may be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder, and may be impacting your child's ability to function normally during the day.

12-year old John Mitchell is sleeping soundly now, but that wasn't always the case.

John's mom Linda says "It must have been within the last year or so where he would sleep and he would start to snore a lot."

Worried that his snoring was a sign of something serious, Linda Mitchell took her son to see a pediatric pulmonogist. 

Dr. Rupali Drewek, M.D. says "John came and had a lot of symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. He had daytime symptoms, including sleepiness. He had poor level of functioning at school."

To find out for sure if John had sleep apnea, Dr. Drewek had him come to a sleep clinic.

"We did see that he was having oxygenation problems at night due to his sleep disorder.", says Dr. Drewek.

While John's symptoms included sleepiness during the day, doctors say some kids may actually exhibit hyperactivity.

"A lot of kids who are diagnosed with ADHD were started on stimulants actually are misdiagnosed. And we uncover sleep disorders and once the sleep disorder is treated, the ADHD resolves."

Catching sleep disorders early is key.

"Undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea for many years can lead to pulmonary hypertension and the cardiac side effects are something that can kill you.", that's according to Dr. Drewek.

John's catching his z's now with the help of a c-pap. The machine opens his airway and helps him breathe easier.

John says "I just wake up real refreshed and just wake up and getting ready for school."

And according to his mom, "I can see the benefit that he's, you know, experienced from it so I'm happy for him to have it."

She's also happy that her son is finally getting the rest he needs.

We mentioned daytime sleepiness as one of the symptoms of sleep apnea.

But headaches, irritability, aggressive behaviors, attention problems and poor academic performance are also signs.

Sleep needs, of course change with a child's age.

An infant for example, may sleep 18 hours a day.

By the time they're one, a toddler may sleep 15 hours.

Younger school age children need about 9 to 11 hours of sleep and teens need anywhere from 8 and a half to 9 and half hours of sleep.

But again, if your child snores each night.. And has a lot of trouble waking up in the morning, it may be time to talk with your doctor.

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