If you suffer from sleep apnea, then you must know there is a chance of passing it down to your children. The chances of this happening are laid out clearly in our previous blog post, but what may not be considered is the fact that your own lifestyle choices have also contributed to your sleep issues. Hereditary conditions cannot be helped, but lifestyle changes are easy to implement.
How likely is it that your child will inherit sleep apnea?
According to the National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health, “A percentage of 35-40% of its variance can be attributed to genetic factors. It is likely that genetic factors associated with craniofacial structure, body fat distribution and neural control of the upper airway muscles interact to produce the OSAS phenotype.”
In other words, some of the factors that lead to sleep apnea are in the composition of the body – the way your body is built. These factors that will make it more likely your children will suffer from sleep apnea are:
- Being male
- Having a larger than average neck size (average is 15 inches circumference for adult men)
- Having large tonsils
- Having a small lower jaw
What lifestyle choices contribute to sleep apnea?
Yep, we said it. The thing you probably wanted to hear least of all! It’s not the end of the world though. Children can often lose weight easier than adults because their diet is chosen for them. By eliminating soda and sugary drinks from the house, your child will start to make healthier choices. Soda is often considered an addiction, so you might hear some complaints at first, but the addiction (which comes from dopamine triggered in your brain by the soda’ caffeine) will take only 2-9 days to disappear (Healthline.com)
Exercising can be daunting, but starting with smaller goals that get you outside will help you sleep better because of the intake of fresh air and the benefits of weight loss. To get children exercising, try walking together once a day. Added bonus: you may enjoy the benefits of listening to their day and feel a closer connection to your child.
Avoid Sleep Aids
Many people lean on melatonin to help them to get to sleep. Use of melatonin amongst kids is on the rise. In the U.K., the number of children using the sleep aid has risen 25% year over year. The problem with melatonin is that it increases the symptoms of sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is caused by the relaxation of throat muscles, which obstruct airway flow while a sufferer is asleep. Too much melatonin will actually increase this relaxation and potentially put a patient in danger of not receiving enough oxygen during sleep.
Track Sleeping Patterns
If you are afraid that your child could suffer from sleep apnea, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. The doctor should start an analysis of all possible causes of the sleep issues. Your child may be sent for sleep studies or for a consultation with an Ear Nose Throat (ENT) Specialist. While all of this is happening, you should keep a log of your child’s sleeping patterns in order to provide the most thorough picture to the medical team.
Track bedtimes and wake up times, check on your child as he/she sleeps and write down whether there is snoring or a lot of tossing and turning. Does your child dream a lot or wake up for water/ bathroom breaks. Note any bedwetting or night terrors, and even note down the routine before bedtime and the last time your child ate before bed. Over time, you will have a good picture of any outlying instances that might be leading to poor sleep.
How Do You Get Help?
By helping your child to get the best night of sleep, you could be eliminating the need for any sleep aids. You are helping improve their development, improve their mood, and saving yourself money and time that would otherwise be spent on expensive treatments.
If you aren’t sure whether you or your child has sleep apnea, we can help. Our sleep studies will help to diagnose your issue, and we can work with your doctor and insurance to provide the best solutions for you.
Get in touch with us today and rest well tomorrow!
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