Lack of sleep linked to many problems in kids



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Posted on June 5, 2010 at 12:25 PM

More than two million kids have sleep disorders.

Three-year-old Jack Frank's nighttime snoring and daytime grouchiness led to a diagnosis of sleep apnea. The fix wasn't meds or machines. Instead surgeons took out his tonsils.

"That amount of obstruction in the back of the throat can contribute to difficulty with sleep apnea," said Dr. Leslie H. Boyce, Pediatric Sleep Specialist.

One study found tonsillectomies, along with removing the adenoids, improved sleep for 80 to 90 percent of kids.

"Even kids who don't have official abnormalities on their sleep study, but have big tonsils, and snore, actually benefit cognitively by having their tonsils removed. And they do better in school," said Dr. Boyce.

Sleep disorders may also disguise themselves.  A study in the journal Pediatrics found 28 percent of kids referred to a doctor for sleep problems, also had ADHD symptoms. After treating the sleep disorder, half of them no longer qualified for an ADHD diagnosis.

In teens, sleep problems impact academics. In one study, Minnesota researchers found students who got A's were getting 15 more minutes of sleep than B students. Those B students got 11 more minutes of shut-eye than C students.

Doctors say fixing nighttime problems is a start to solving daytime stress for kid of all ages.

Sleep experts say kids in grade school may need up to twelve hours of sleep each night. Teens typically need about nine hours.

Dr. Boyce says about a third of kids have trouble sleeping through the night.