Submitted by Koala KIDZzz®, a division of Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders
All good things must come to an end, and—at least for children—that includes summer vacations and sleeping in. As parents shop for school supplies and clothes, set up new schedules or doctor appointments, and perhaps purchase a fresh new sleeping pillow, there are other vitally important items parents need to look for—supplies that can make the difference between a successful school year or an extremely challenging one.
Full Supply of Sleep
“The stakes have never been higher or more rewarding for those who recognize that ‘Sleep is a Powerful Medicine,’” says Dr. Rodney Willey, CEO of Koala KIDZzz®, a division of Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders in Dunlap, IL.
The medicine of sleep is something parents need to make sure is in every child’s ‘supply kit’—not only for the school year, but year round. Although the National Sleep Foundation recommends nine to 11 hours of sleep for children ages 6 to 13, most parents know that is a lot easier said than done. A sleep diary is a valuable tool for parents and doctors to help determine how the child is sleeping, how much sleep they are getting, and how much they actually need.
Back to School Readiness Starts with Checking Childhood Sleeping Patterns
While summer is a time of fun and relative freedom for a child, those long days and warm months can lead to late nights and sleeping in. “Getting back into the school routine can become a daunting task with a child that struggles to get restorative sleep,” Dr. Willey points out.
It is well known that hormones are vital to a child’s development. In order for hormones to be produced and regulated properly, it is vital the child has uninterrupted restorative sleep.
Nightmares and other sleep disruptions, mood swings, and behavior and cognitive problems can result from sleep-related breathing disorder (SRBD). SRBD can impact their social life and their ability to learn in school, especially in math and science.
In 1991, “Ready to Learn” became a nationally accepted mantra from parents and educators. At that time, the National Education Goals Panel adopted its first goal that “by the year 2000, all children will enter school ready to learn.”
As recognized by those same educators and certainly by health care providers nationwide, readiness to learn begins with a good night’s sleep. But how does a parent know their child is actually getting that ‘good night’s sleep,’ night after night?
Koala KIDZzz has established “Back to School Readiness” protocols to help.
Check for Signs of SRBD
Many adults know it only takes a quick look in the mirror to recognize when they are in need of sleep. Dark circles under the eyes, mental fog, and exhaustion can indicate sleep deprivation; but the same signs could reveal SRBD in kids.
- Dark Circles Under Eyes along with a dull and pale face are often symptoms of sleep deprivation or SRBD. But while these symptoms are quite noticeable as outward indications of poor sleep, there are other functional symptoms, such as a child’s approach to learning, their grades, or their enthusiasm for learning and sports. A child’s poor temperament or behavior outbursts at home and school are also indicators.
Conversely, when a child gets the proper amount of restorative sleep, there can be a positive shift in these indicators. “When students are ‘Ready to Learn’ the results are often demonstrated in the student’s attitude,” Dr. Willey states. “Their eagerness to learn, their cooperation, empathy, and the ability to express their own emotions are more prominent.”
- ADD/ADHD diagnoses have increased in the last few decades; parents, educators, and medical providers have sought to explain why some children are prone to hyperactivity or have difficulty paying attention. Children with SRBD can present with hyperactivity or attention deficit symptoms and subsequently be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD) without getting to the root of the symptoms.
But a diagnosis does little if anything to explain why someone has a particular condition. Through continued research, however, some answers are coming to light in discovering the root cause of those symptoms. If your child has been diagnosed with either ADD or ADHD, Koala KIDZzz helps parents discover the right questions to ask, which is key to finding the right answers.
“Did you know that 25 to 50 percent of children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD also have sleep-related problems?” Dr. Willey asks. “Ongoing research findings show there is a correlation between SRBD and ADD/ADHD.”
The sleep connection often goes missed by parents and doctors alike when evaluating a child’s potential ADHD symptoms. Behavioral issues, an inability to concentrate, and apparent hyperactivity may point to ADHD, but if there’s an underlying connection to SRBD, ADHD may need to be reconsidered. Dr. Willey states, “When SRBD is left untreated it can lead to serious medical conditions.”
- Bedwetting during childhood is not an uncommon condition up to 6 or 7 years. “When a child is in a deep sleep, hormones cause the body to produce less urine. If a child is having interrupted sleep, the antidiuretic hormone produced by the hypothalamus gland is not being regulated properly; many times, the urine production continues through the night hours and the child will end up wetting the bed,” states Dr. Willey. “Pure exhaustion from poor sleep the night before can contribute to this symptom as well.”
A child’s sense of self worth needs to grow alongside the more noticeable aspects of growth. Their self-esteem can be, ironically, nowhere near as resilient as their growing bodies. “As social and emotional developments are other key factors to a successful school year, bedwetting can destroy the self-esteem of a child,” says Dr. Willey. “There is also important intellectual growth, which occurs as children learn from their parents, school, and life experiences.”
“Growth and appetite hormones are also produced and regulated during specific sleep cycles that facilitate their growth and healthy appetite,” explains Dr. Willey. “Sleep is essential for the growth of young children, which is why parents must ensure their children sleep well during the night to maintain normal hormone balance.” If delayed growth and/or obesity is a concern, ensure your child has proper sleep, and start with a Koala KIDZzz Sleep Evaluation.
- Snoring and Mouth Breathing can lead to the under-development of the upper jaw arch, which can put pressure on the sinuses and could account for crowded teeth during development stages. Due to this condition, many cases of unresolved allergies are found to be linked to SRBD.
Two very noticeable signs of possible sleep apnea are snoring and mouth breathing. Both occur as a result of an obstructed airway while sleeping. When the airway is obstructed, the body often reflexively rouses itself from sleep in order to resume proper breathing. This sleep/wake cycle prevents a person from getting the proper amount of restorative deep sleep needed in order to feel properly rested.
- Heredity Link to SRBD should come as no surprise; we know that children tend to take after their parents. Children inherit a lot more than just hair and eye color or personality quirks; they can inherit the airway features as well. Knowing that sleep-related issues can certainly run in the family is a good indicator that an evaluation for SRBD should be seriously considered.
“If one or more parents have diagnosed or undiagnosed sleep apnea, chances are very likely their children will also suffer with SRBD,” indicates Dr. Willey.
The “School Supply” of Sleep
Once your child is evaluated for SRBD, the information will be a valuable tool for you to share with your pediatrician. Treatment for childhood SRBD is easy and comfortable with Koala KIDZzz.
Children are fitted with a growth-determinant series of mouth appliances worn during sleep. Pediatricians and parents searching for non-pharmaceutical, non-surgical SRBD treatment find the appliances to be safe and appreciate the soft material used—one similar to those used for pacifiers. Parents discover the appliances not only treat the snoring and sleep disorder, but also allow for guided growth, help teeth come in straighter as the upper jaw plate expands gradually over the course of treatment, and many times reduce time needed for braces.
Whatever your role is in a child’s life, if you’re concerned with SRBD symptoms, help them have a successful school year without struggling with the symptoms of sleep deprivation!
August and September Koala KIDZzz “Back to School Readiness” offer is a Complimentary SRBD Comprehensive Consultation and Exam for toddlers to teens. Rule out childhood sleep disorders today and sleep better tonight. Visit www.KoalaKIDZzz.com or at 11825 N. Knoxville Ave., Dunlap, IL 61525. They can be reached at 309-240-6700. Discover options your child can live with!