As a parent, you may be unaware of just how well your child sleeps. You may be so used to certain behaviors at night or during the day that it seems normal. How your child sleeps affects how they behave and how they behave affects how they sleep. The behavior I’m referring to isn’t necessarily “bad behavior” but includes things like grumpiness, frustration, clumsiness, fear of going to bed, wired but tired, and poor performance in school.
Any attribute your child has that is concerning, or adds more challenge to family life, could potentially be related to poor sleep. How would you know if your child is having normal good nights of sleep or is having disordered sleep?
In the book I recommend to parents of my patients, Sleep-Wrecked Kids by Sharon Moore, there is excellent advice and simple ways to find out. She recommends that parents become the lifeguard of their child’s sleep, because their sleep affects nearly every aspect of their life, including their growth and development, as well as their family’s life. She provides a Sleep History Screening developed by pediatric sleep specialist, Dr. Jim Papadopoulos that any parent can use.
It takes you through some very basic questions such as:
- Can you hear your child breathing while they sleep?
- Does your child snore?
- Does your child have their body in odd positions?
She recommends you sneak in and observe your child’s sleep – without disturbing them. Take photos or video if you can do so without waking them. She has found that parents often don’t recognize unusual sleep behaviors when viewed “live” but are more likely to see them when captured in photos or videos.
If you answer “yes” to any question in the sleep history screening, there are more questions to ask about each one. It’s very important to learn why this is happening. The resolutions to these issues may be simple environmental changes, better and more regular bedtime routines, or they could be dental or medical red flags.
As an orthodontist, I’m able to diagnose and treat obstructive sleep apnea and other airway issues that are major disruptors to your child’s sleep. I have a passion for ensuring all kids get the sleep they need and will give you an honest assessment of what treatments would benefit your child, whether it’s orthodontic or something else.
I highly recommend, even if you assume your child’s sleep is just fine, to use the sleep history screening to make sure. And if you have “yes” checked, schedule a consultation, and bring the form with you. This could be the first step to a healthier, happier, well-behaved child.
Other blogs in this series: