Sleep apnea is quite a common condition nowadays, which is being diagnosed in an increasing number of children and teenagers. It is connected with inability to breathe freely while sleeping due to certain obstructions formed in the airway (can be caused by increased adenoids or other respiratory system conditions). Sleep apnea in kids is usually linked to many unwanted side effects including chronic fatigue, inability to get focused and other attention problems, a lack of academic success, as well as numerous behavioral problems. Scientists attribute these problems to inability of children with sleep apnea as due to this kind of disorder kids can not have good quality sleep at night and wake up very often. Fortunately, there are opportunities for quite effective types of treatment for sleep apnea in kids.
It is a known fact that nowadays, there are a number of technologies allowing to keep chidrens’ airway open all night long. Most of those are special positive airway pressure (PAP) devices built to pump air and keep the kid’s airway open during all night. However, most of such devices are quite large and can be really hard to tolerate at night, especially by little kids. That is why a group of scientists initiated a series of researches and started looking for new ways to develop a treatment to help bring relieve to all children with sleep apnea, without surgeries or any other type of risky and dangerous interventions. What they came up with as a result of their investigations is actually not a something new, but rather a new approach to using the good old PAP machines.
The idea is using the devices just for only 3 hours a night. The technology was tested on 52 children aged 12 (on average), most of who had obvious developmental problems caused partially by their inability to have a proper sleep due to chronic sleep apnea. For three months the children were asked to use PAP machines for just 3 hours every night, and the results were really promising. Carole L. Marcus, a study leader and a professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, reported that: “The main message is that treatment, although it may be difficult to tolerate, can result in a significant improvement in childhood behavior symptoms and quality of life.”
Certainly, this type of treatment can still be problematic as not many children will be willing to wear bulky PAP devices even for a short period of time. However, it can be a solution for those children with sleep apnea, who have other health conditions (including high stages of obesity) and can not be considered candidates for surgery as a treatment option. Undoubtedly, using a successful and good treatment for sleep apnea in kids will substantially improve life quality, general development and behavior of children. Read more about these findings in the latest issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Adequate amounts of sleep on a regular basis are very important for all children and teenagers, and a lack of sleep in young ages can have very serious and irreversible negative effects. In particular, according to the findings of a recent study related to teenage obesity and chances to suffer from type 2 diabetes, those teenagers who do not have enough sleep day-by-day have much higher blood sugar levels. This situation can turn into a dangerous one and create a perfect environment for developing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, in order to lower the risks of this serious disease, it is necessary to sleep not less than 8-8.5 hours a day.
62 overweight teenagers from the US aged 12-16 took part in the study. Their overnight sleep patterns were analyzed and compared. At that, the scientists payed attention not only to sleep phases, but also to the glucose levels in the teenagers’ blood. It turned out that those of the teenagers who had inadequate amounts of sleep (either too much sleep or too little sleep) had quite higher levels of sugar in blood compared to the glucose levels in the blood of those teenagers who had the recommended amount of sleep.
Dr. Dorit Koren, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and one of the leaders of the research, comments on the findings as the following: “Our study found to keep glucose levels stable, the optimal amount of sleep for teenagers is 7.5 to 8.5 hours per night.” This amount of sleep in teenagers is associated with the best condition and, in particular, with normal levels of blood glucose linked to lower risks of developing problems and diseases like type 2 diabetes. It was also found out that a lack of sleep in teenagers is associated with lowered insulin secretion.
The experts are planning to go on the experiments and continue studying the sleep patterns of teenagers, this time in their home setting. Financial support for further experiments and studies was received from the officials at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Research Resources and the Pennsylvania State Tobacco Settlement Fund. Those who are interested in this issue can read more about the findings of this study in one of the September’s issues of the journal Diabetes Care.
Some babies do not like sleeping and do not let their parents sleep as well. Some babies, on the contrary, are very good sleepers and always totally satisfy their needs of sleeping up to 10 hours a day. Recently, s group of the experts from the department of anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, conducted a research trying to find out whether sleeping is linked to growing up in babies, just like our grandmas tended to believe. It turned out that – yes, the old notion does have scientific background and after a good sleep, a baby always wakes up taller.
The study involved working with 23 families with newborn babies, average 12 days. The parents were asked to keep tracks of their babies’ sleep patterns and waking up routine. All other details, like whether the baby was breast-fed or formula-fed, or whether the baby displayed the symptoms like vomiting, gas, diarrhea, high fever and so on, were also taken into account. Also, the scientists regularly measured the length of the babies, as often as twice a week.
The findings were really interesting and exciting. Every change in the baby’s sleep patterns, or every time the baby had a tendency to sleep more, a substantial growth spurt was following. The scientists estimated that 43% of babies experienced an obvious growth spurt with every extra hours of sleep they took. 20% of babies displayed growth spurt when they were taking increased number of naps on a day-to-day basis. At that, the scientists reported that baby girls were more likely to take less number of naps that baby boys. Also, those babies who were fed with formula tended to have longer but less frequent naps compared to the breast-fed babies.
These findings turned out to be first of the kind that confirmed the links between sleep patterns and growing up in babies. “Little is known about the biology of growth spurts. Our data opens the window to further scientific study of the mechanisms and pathways that underlie salutatory growth,” says Michelle Lampl, one of the research team leaders. “Sleep irregularities can be distressing to parents,” the specialist adds. “However, these findings give babies a voice that helps parents understand them and show that seemingly erratic sleep behavior is a normal part of development. Babies really aren’t trying to be difficult.”
Marital problems and misunderstandings are reported to be linked to serious sleep problems in infants and toddlers, the scientists say. It was well known before that instability and unhealthy relationships between parents usually cause certain behavioral and psychological problems in their kids, but according to the findings of the research published recently in the journal Child Development, marital conflicts very often lead to developing serous sleep problems in infants as well. The combination of all the mentioned factors caused by marital instability and problems between parents can lead to serious outcomes for children, including behavioral and social issues, problems in school, psychological disorders and so on.
The study conducted by a group of specialists at Oregon Social Learning Center involved close analysis of the situation in about 350 middle class families with children between 9 and 18 months. To rule out the chances that sleep disorders in infants can be caused by genetic predisposition, only the families with adopted infants were invited to participate the study. The degree of marital problems was evaluated by using a standard four-grade measure, with the highest point given to those couples who gave positive answer to the question about possible divorce or separation.
The facts have proven that prolonged instability and conflicts between parents when the children are 9 months old are strictly linked to sleep problems (including inability to fall asleep, problems with staying asleep at night, night walking and so on) when children become 18 months old. “Our findings suggest that the association between marital instability and children’s subsequent sleep problems emerges earlier in development than has been demonstrated previously,” says Anne Manning, one of the Oregon State University study group leaders.
“Parents should be aware that stress in the marriage can potentially impact their child even at a very young age,” underlines Anne Manning in the statement of the scientists. Now, the Oregon study group is planning to get focused on studying the links between marital conflicts and the emergence of sleep problems or disturbances in children after the age of 2. So, if you are a mom or father of an infant, remember about healthy parenting, the role of parent-child relationship and the above mentioned effects of marital problems and instability on your infants. Remember that sleep problems in infants can lead to very serious and unstoppable consequences.
Many parents suffer because their infants and toddlers can’t go to sleep on time, can’t fall asleep or want to sleep in the parents’ bed. Many moms and dads tent to blame themselves for such “habits” of their toddlers. Or, they believe, there can be genetic causes of this problem as moms and dads also tend to go to sleep late and can’t fall asleep sometimes. However, according to the findings of a study carried out by a group of Italian specialists the secret most likely is in the specifics of the sleeping environment that moms and dads choose for their babies. Let’s take a closer look at the conclusions and finding of this research which were published recently in an online version of the Journal Pediatrics.
Italian specialists found out an interesting strategy to study sleep patterns of children and toddlers. They studied the sleep and the sleeping environment of 127 pairs of identical twins and 187 pairs of fraternal twins, who presumably shared the same environment while sleeping. Also, the scientists interviewed their parents on the following issues: do twins like sleeping in their own room or rather in parents’ room, do they like having daytime naps, do they fall asleep easily and so on.
Here is a brief summary of the findings:
- All studied pairs of twins, both identical and fraternal, sleep in average 9.7 hours at night and complement their night sleeps with 2.1 hour of day sleep.
- About 53% of all twin pairs sleep in their parents’ room.
- Genetics had nothing to do with toddlers who tend to rather sleep in the room with their parents. However, the scientists are convinced that genetics plays a role in children waking up at night. Only 19% of fraternal twins were reported waking up at night (up to 6-7 times), at that 31% identical twins were reported to do so.
Similar results were received earlier by Canadian and Japanese scientists. The best thing about these scientific explanations are the true fact that if you suffer from your child’s sleeplessness at night, you should start changing the sleeping environment of your child, like the color of the bedroom, the location of the child’s bed, or trying to make him fall asleep in another room, etc. This way there are chances that your child’s sleep routine will improve.