The You Docs Tip of the Day: Helping children with sleep disorders

May 8, 2013 

Was Dennis a menace just because he didn't get enough sleep? Quite possibly.

Kids who snore or have sleep apnea (that's on again, off again breathing) don't get restful shut-eye or enough sleep overall, and they can end up having trouble playing well with others.

A recent five-year study of kids ages 6 to 11 with occasional sleep disordered breathing (that's the fancy name for snoring and apnea) found that they were five times more likely than well-rested children to exhibit hyperactivity, attention problems, over-aggressiveness and other kinds of anti-social behavior.

And problems are even more prevalent if sleep disordered breathing (SDB) happens night after night.

What causes SDB? It could be something as simple as an untreated allergy or might be caused by a deviated septum, large tonsils, obesity (fat infiltrates the back of the throat), exhaustion or stress.

Consult with your pediatrician to determine the cause. Psychologists agree that the wait-and-see approach isn't smart, since SDB can affect a child's physical and emotional development.

Solutions? Antihistamines may help if SDB is allergy-related; so can regular exercise (you lose much of the fat in your throat); and try a bedtime snack of 100 percent whole grain and protein about two hours before sleep.

Dr. Oz suggests a handful of almonds or walnuts, a bowl of oatmeal, a glass of skim milk or a banana. If stress is a cause, opt for meditation and counseling. And don't hesitate to try a device to help regulate breathing. Your child deserves sweet dreams.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.

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