Affects of Sleep Apnea on Children

Sleep apnea affects children
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Facts About ADHD and Sleep Apnea in Children  

 In the past several years researchers in the medical community have been trying to understand, what, if any, is the link between ADHD and sleep apnea in children.  While many people don’t realize it, sleep disorders are quite common in those who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Researchers have helped understand the relationship between sleep apnea and ADHD, or have at least been asking important questions to solve the puzzle.  Does one condition cause the other?  The research has just begun so that perhaps in the near future we can understand what the true relation is between ADHD and sleep apnea in children.

Sleep Apnea Facts 

The term sleep apnea is used by many but so many people don’t even understand what it is.  Sleep apnea is actually a sleeping disorder that is found under many categories such as central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, and mixed.  The word apnea comes from Greek origins that means “without breath”.  Sleep apnea is a condition that needs to be treated.  Without treatment the person who suffers from the condition will suffer from a cessation of breathing during their sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when there is something blocking the air passages.  The back of the throat is usually the airway blocked.  With central sleep apnea, the brain actually sends the wrong messages to the breathing muscles.  Finally, with mixed apnea there is a combination of an obstruction and a problem with the signals between the brain and the breathing muscles.

ADHD Facts 

ADHD is also called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Children are often diagnosed with this condition in their early school years.  Most children present with some classic symptoms such as inattention, impulsive, and hyperactivity, although not all children will present with all of these symptoms.  Many children who are diagnosed are misdiagnosed, and according to research, are actually suffering from sleep deprivation.

What is the Link Between ADHD and Sleep Apnea 

 This is a big question that researchers are working diligently to solve.   Researchers would like to find out whether obstructive sleep apnea can cause ADHD and learning disabilities.  What is known is that those who have obstructive sleep apnea actually develop a pause between breaths when snoring.

When repeated, this will lead to a decrease in the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, therefore disturbing the sleep cycle.  In children, it is thought that sleep apnea and ADHD cause problems with verbal and spatial understanding, coordination, and even attention.

Past and current studies have proven that there is a connection between ADHD and sleep apnea.  It is this connection that has some researchers thinking that children who suffer from ADHD may also suffer from sleep apnea.  The question still remains what the connection is and if one can be solved if the other one will be solved as well.

The Connection Between Bed Wetting and Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder.  This sleeping disorder involves the cessation or interruption of normal breathing patterns while sleeping.   The interruptions usually last for ten to twenty seconds and can scare the person who is affected or the people around them.  When you add bed wetting into the mix, the condition becomes even more frightening.  The fact of the matter is that there are different types of sleep apnea such as obstructive, central, and mixed.

The Connection 

 Sleep apnea is connected to many other conditions, with bed wedding and sleep apnea being a common combination.  Both of these problems are very common and there may be a variety of reasons.  Many people with a problem with bed wetting have no medical explanation, although some people actually begin wetting the bed after developing sleep apnea.

Open mouth breathing during sleep is often seen in those who wet the bed as well as those who have sleep apnea.  Many believe that the lack of restful sleep causes one not to wake up to use the restroom during sleep, which leads to bed wetting.  The theory makes sense!

Treatment of Bed Wetting and Sleep Apnea 

 It doesn’t matter if you have just started suffering from bed wetting and sleep apnea or if you have been suffering for awhile, you need to seek treatment.  There are different treatments available that will help you such as the CPAP machine.

This is a continuous positive airway pressure therapy that will help you continue to get the oxygen that you need while you sleep.  The treatment involves the wearing of a mask which will supply the air and keep the airway from collapsing.  Surgery is also an option, but it is usually considered a last resort.

Bed wetting and sleep apnea are not something that anyone wants to experience, so if you are going through this, talk to your doctor.  This is not something to be embarrassed about; it is something that you want to talk to someone about sooner rather than later because the longer you wait the more difficult the bed wetting may be to treat.  Working closely with your doctor can help you do away with this problem for good!


Sometimes it is hard to figure out why a child is having bed wetting or why I child is having ADHD symptoms. Sleep apnea is serious disorder that can lead to all kinds of health problems such as bed wetting and ADHD symptoms. See your pediatrician if your child has any of these symptoms.


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Phyllis Robinson MSN, RN is a Registered Nurse of 27 years. Phyllis is passionate about the prevention and healing of heart disease using traditional and alternative methods. She has experience in emergency room, telemetry, infusion, and critical care. Phyllis currently practices in an intensive care unit.

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