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How to Explain Sleep Apnea to Your Child

Submitted by New Jersey Snoring Solutions on Mon 01/24/2022 - 09:00
apnea treatment West Orange, NJ

Like any health condition, sleep apnea can be a difficult concept for children to comprehend. Dr. Ivan Stein and Dr. Allan Stein of New Jersey Sleep Apnea Solutions have devoted their careers to helping patients and their families to understand and manage this common but serious sleep disorder. To communicate more effectively with children about your sleep apnea, or with children who have sleep apnea themselves, Dr. Stein and Dr. Stein offer the following advice:

Explaining Your Sleep Apnea to Children

Children usually notice that something is different about a parent with sleep apnea, so there is no sense in trying to hide the condition from them. They may even ask questions about why you snore so loudly or why you wear an oral appliance or CPAP machine at night. Answering these questions honestly, in an age-appropriate way, is best.

Provide an explanation that puts the focus on the treatment and how it allows you to sleep better at night and feel better during the day. Draw comparisons to other health remedies they are already familiar with, like Tylenol for a headache or a cast for a broken bone.

If you volunteer too much information about how sleep apnea causes irregular breathing, that will understandably scare them. Foremost, your kids want to know that you are going to be okay, so communicating that should keep their minds at ease. If you are not currently seeking treatment for this sleep disorder, let your children’s questions be some needed inspiration to seek a healthier life!

Talking to Children with Sleep Apnea

Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea affects as many as 5% of children in the United States. Parents often recognize their symptoms of snoring, irregular breathing or restlessness at night. Since children are unaware of what happens while they sleep, you may have better luck discussing some of the daytime consequences that they are more likely aware of: irritability, tiredness, behavior problems and headaches. Explain that these problems are due to a breathing problem at night and that a doctor is going to help them to sleep better.

The appropriate treatment for sleep apnea differs from child to child: tonsil removal, oral appliance, medication, etc. Whatever the treatment ends up being, provide the child with an explanation and allow them to ask questions so they are an active participant in the process. Remind them that treatment is to help them sleep better and not a punishment.

At New Jersey Sleep Apnea Solutions, Dr. Stein and Dr. Stein regularly treat kids and have rehearsed age-appropriate explanations to help you with these difficult conversations. They understand that a sleep apnea diagnosis can be stressful for you and your child, and they are eager to be part of the solution. To make an appointment at New Jersey Sleep Apnea Solutions, please call (855) 949-7667.