Signs that Show When Children Have Sleep Apnea

Signs that Show When Children Have Sleep Apnea

Whenever one talks about sleep apnea, it’s hard not to picture a person, who is perhaps overweight, in his mid 40’s, loudly snoring the night away, shaking the very foundations of the house with each heaving breath they take. However, as it turns out, sleep apnea is also fairly common in children, though it might be harder to detect than in adults. For starters, adults manifest the symptoms in a much more noticeable way;those who suffer from this condition are constantly fatigued, and can’t recover energy even after a restful night of sleep. Children react differently to fatigue: instead of looking tired or lethargic, they may get irritable or even rebellious, which can cause confusion at the moment of diagnosing the condition.

Regardless, identifying sleep apnea early on can be a very important matter, as this condition can severely affect the child’s growth and develop into more serious afflictions later on. Here are several common signs of sleep apnea in children. If a child is consistently experiencing one or more of the signs listed in this article, please consider taking he or she to a clinician, as they could be suffering from sleep apnea.


Although not at all uncommon, children who suffer from sleep apnea may have an increased probability of experiencing frequent periods of sleepwalking. In normal conditions, around 10% of children sleepwalk during their early years, a condition which peaks at around their fifth year of life, and tapers as they mature, disappearing completely as he or she reaches adolescence. Basically put, sleepwalking consists of periods where the person attains wakefulness but remains in a period of subconsciousness, where his or her acts don’t register in memory. Consequently, they might walk around, or even perform actions while asleep, and have no recollection of ever waking up during the night. Those who suffer from sleep apnea tend to have brief moments of wakefulness when they gasp for air, and it is in these periods where the child may fragment their sleep and begin to sleepwalk.

Teeth Grinding

Although harder to detect unless you closely monitor the child when they’re asleep, teeth grinding, although indirectly, might also be an indicator of sleep apnea. During the times when the airways collapse due to inflamed adenoids and tonsils, the person will unconsciously struggle to catch their breath during their sleep, leading to the main symptom of sleep apnea, snoring and difficulty to rest. Teeth grinding, however, may also manifest as a method for the sleeping person to try and clear their airway. When gnashing and grinding their teeth while clenching their jaw, the child might also clench the muscles on the throat, clearing the airway in the process. Consequently, sleep apnea patients will unconsciously practice this behavior more frequently than their healthy counterparts.