Let’s first talk about the simplest and the least harmful sleep disorder: simple snoring. Simple or nuisance snoring is just a partial, mild upper airway collapse. More than 40 million adults snore. “Simple” or nuisance snoring is harmless unless it bothers the sleep of your bed partner. If the bed partner’s sleep is affected by this snoring, their health can truly be altered. While snoring is more common in men, many women also keep their bed partners awake.
In susceptible people, when enough muscle relaxation occurs, the tongue presses on the flabby tissue at the back of the throat and the airway starts collapsing. The air rushes through this narrowed airway space and the increased air turbulence causes the flabby tissue to flap back and forth, causing the annoying sound we know as snoring. As many as half of adults snore at least occasionally.
Sometimes snoring may indicate a serious health condition. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol close to bedtime or sleeping on your side, can help stop snoring.
Oral appliance therapy is extremely effective in helping these suffering bed partners.
How Common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS)?
- This is the most serious of the three categories of sleep disorders we will talk about.
- In a study by the National Sleep Foundation, 67% of adults reported that their partner snores.
- Many couples sleep separately to minimize the problems caused by chronic loud snoring.
- It’s estimated that 20% of men and 5% of women in their thirties snore; 60% of men and 40% of women in their sixties snore; and 40% of adults older than 40 snore (approx. 87 million Americans). About 35% of habitual snorers are estimated to have obstructive sleep apnea (OSAS), which is a staggering percentage of the population.
- However, of most concern is the fact that about 8090% of people with OSAS are not diagnosed, implying that a significant number of snorers have undiagnosed OSAS.
- Twentyfive percent of men and 10% of women suffer from some form of OSAS (approx. 30 million Americans).
- Fewer than 10% of OSAS sufferers have been diagnosed (approx. 3 million Americans). Of those diagnosed with OSAS, fewer than 25% have been successfully treated.
Does Your Child Really Have ADHD? Perhaps an unchecked sleep problem could be to blame.
Through the years, a growing number of fidgety, forgetful, and unfocused children have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 5 million children ages 3 to 17 have been diagnosed with the condition, making it one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents. This has even prompted declara-tions of an ADHD epidemic in America. Recent research, though, suggests that a child’s sleep patterns could partly be to blame. “Sleep disorders may contribute to behaviors that resemble ADHD during the day,” says Kevin Smith, a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo. A study published in March in Pediatrics analyzed more than 11,000 children over a period of six years, beginning at 6 months of age, and revealed that children suffering from sleep-disordered breathing—including snoring, breathing through the mouth, and apnea, where the child seems to stop breathing for several seconds at a time—had a higher incidence of behavioral and emotional issues such as hyperactivity, aggressiveness, depression, and anxiety. In fact, they were 50 to 90 percent more likely to develop ADHD-like symptoms than were normal breathers. And those children who suffered most severely from all three sleep-disordered breathing behaviors at around age 2 and a half had the highest risk for hyperactivity “Parents may even wish to video or audio tape the problematic behavior as a first step.” A separate study released in June examined the long-term impact of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)—where the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep—in teenagers, and it revealed similar results.
“It’s’s not known if children who have OSA aremisdiagnosed with ADHD, but school persoand and clinicians should consider an matador’ for sleep-disordercd breathing ivhen a 4:,hild exhibits pro blmis with attention and hyperactivity. At the very least, OSA symptoms could exacerbate ADHD symptoms.”
If there is a misdiagnosis of ADHD, this can be problematic when one considers the fact that medications used to treat ADHD, like Vyvanse and Ritalin, are stimulants and can cause insomnia. In September of last year, the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that the prescribed use of stimulant medications for ADHD in children ages 6 to 12 rose from 4.2 percent in 1996 to 5.1 percent in 2008. For children ages 13 to 18, that rate increased from 2.3 percent in 1996 to 4.9 percent in 2008. Sleep is vital for the growth and development of all children, and in light of current research, parents of children with ADHD should pay espe-cially close attention. A solution for their child could be less Adderall and more zzzs.